Epidermal-like architecture obtained from equine keratinocytes in three-dimensional cultures

Ruchi Sharma, Safia Z Barakzai, Sarah E Taylor, F Xavier Donadeu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Despite the high prevalence of skin conditions in the horse, there is a dearth of literature on the culture and biology of equine skin cells, and this is partially attributable to the lack of suitable in vitro skin models. The objective of this study was to develop a three-dimensional (3D) culture system that would support the proliferation and differentiation of equine keratinocytes, similar to that observed in natural epidermis. Cell monolayers were obtained from explants of equine skin and serially passaged as highly pure keratinocyte populations (> 95% of cells), based on their expression of cytokeratins, including CK-5 and CK-14, which are associated in vivo with proliferating keratinocyte populations. Explant-derived keratinocytes were seeded into Alvetex™ 3D tissue scaffolds for 30 days under conditions that promote cell differentiation. Ultrastructural, immunohistochemical and biochemical analyses revealed that keratinocytes within scaffolds were able to proliferate and attain tissue polarity, including differentiation into basal and suprabasal layers. The basal layer contained distinct cuboidal cells with large nuclei and stained for proliferative markers such as CK-5 and CK-14. In contrast, the suprabasal layers consisted of cells with distinct polyhedral morphology, abundant cytoplasmic processes and desmosomes indicative of stratum spinosum and distinct flattened cornified cells that expressed involucrin, a marker of terminal differentiation. Thus, keratinocytes derived from primary equine skin explants were able to attain epidermal-like architecture in culture. This novel system could provide a very useful tool for modelling skin diseases, drug testing/toxicity studies and, potentially, equine regenerative medicine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-636
JournalJournal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Issue number8
Early online date30 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • equine
  • primary keratinocytes
  • three-dimensional cultures
  • cytokeratins
  • epidermis


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