skin tissue engineering

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A Comparison of Scaffold-free and Scaffold-based Reconstructed Human Skin Models as Alternatives to Animal Use

Beste Kinikoglu

Tissue engineered full-thickness human skin substitutes have various applications in the clinic and in the laboratory, such as in the treatment of burns or deep skin defects, and as reconstructed human skin models in the safety testing of drugs and cosmetics and in the fundamental study of skin biology and pathology. So far, different approaches have been proposed for the generation of reconstructed skin, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here, the classic tissue engineering approach, based on cell-seeded
polymeric scaffolds, is compared with the less-studied cell self-assembly approach, where the cells are coaxed to synthesise their own extracellular matrix (ECM). The resulting full-thickness human skin substitutes were analysed by means of histological and immunohistochemical analyses. It was found that both the scaffold-free and the scaffold-based skin equivalents successfully mimicked the functionality and morphology of native skin, with complete epidermal differentiation (as determined by the expression of filaggrin), the presence of a continuous basement membrane expressing collagen VII, and new ECM deposition by dermal fibroblasts. On the other hand, the scaffold-free model had a thicker epidermis and a significantly higher number of Ki67-positive proliferative cells, indicating a higher capacity for self-renewal, as compared to the scaffold-based model.

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