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Bioengineering the Microanatomy of Human Skin

Roger, Mathilde; Fullard, Nicola; Costello, Lydia; Bradbury, Steven; Markiewicz, Ewa; O'Reilly, Steven; Darling, Nicole; Ritchie, Pamela; Määttä, Arto; Karakesisoglou, Iakowos; Nelson, Glyn; von Zglinicki, Thomas; Dicolandrea, Teresa; Isfort, Robert; Bascom, Charles; Przyborski, Stefan

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Mathilde Roger

Lydia Costello

Ewa Markiewicz

Steven O'Reilly

Nicole Darling

Pamela Ritchie

Glyn Nelson

Thomas von Zglinicki

Teresa Dicolandrea

Robert Isfort

Charles Bascom


Recreating the structure of human tissues in the laboratory is valuable for fundamental research, testing interventions, and reducing the use of animals. Critical to the use of such technology is the ability to produce tissue models that accurately reproduce the microanatomy of the native tissue. Current artificial cell‐based skin systems lack thorough characterisation, are not representative of human skin, and can show variation. In this study, we have developed a novel full thickness model of human skin comprised of epidermal and dermal compartments. Using an inert porous scaffold, we created a dermal construct using human fibroblasts that secrete their own extracellular matrix proteins, which avoids the use of animal‐derived materials. The dermal construct acts as a foundation upon which epidermal keratinocytes were seeded and differentiated into a stratified keratinised epithelium. In‐depth morphological analyses of the model demonstrated very close similarities with native human skin. Extensive immunostaining and electron microscopy analysis revealed ultrastructural details such as keratohyalin granules and lamellar bodies within the stratum granulosum, specialised junctional complexes, and the presence of a basal lamina. These features reflect the functional characteristics and barrier properties of the skin equivalent. Robustness and reproducibility of in vitro models are important attributes in experimental practice, and we demonstrate the consistency of the skin construct between different users. In summary, a new model of full thickness human skin has been developed that possesses microanatomical features reminiscent of native tissue. This skin model platform will be of significant interest to scientists researching the structure and function of human skin.


Roger, M., Fullard, N., Costello, L., Bradbury, S., Markiewicz, E., O'Reilly, S., …Przyborski, S. (2019). Bioengineering the Microanatomy of Human Skin. Journal of Anatomy, 234(4), 438-455.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 7, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 10, 2019
Publication Date Apr 30, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 5, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 12, 2019
Journal Journal of Anatomy
Print ISSN 0021-8782
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 234
Issue 4
Pages 438-455


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (3.9 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version © 2019 The Authors. Journal of Anatomy published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Anatomical Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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