2000 J Invest Dermatol 2000 ;114 (2):365-70
Laboratoire des Substituts Cutanes, Service de biochimie C, Hopital E. Herriot, Lyon, France.

Keratinocytes influence the maturation and organization of the elastin network in a skin equivalent

Elastic fibers form a complex network that contributes to the elasticity of connective tissues. Alterations in the elastic fiber network are involved in several disease affecting organs in which compliance of the connective tissue is essential: skin, main vasculature, lung, joints, muscle, and ligament. The aim of our work was to study the deposition, maturation, and organization of elastic fiber components in a dermal equivalent model consisting of collagen-GAG-chitosan seeded with fibroblasts. The influence of keratinocytes was studied in parallel, thus constituting a skin equivalent model. These models were examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and by immunohistochemistry to determine the staining patterns of fibrillin-1 and elastin proteins representative of the microfibrillar framework and of the elastic fibers, respectively. After 2 mo of fibroblast culture in the dermal equivalent, elastin was undetectable, whereas fibrillin-1 staining was weak and microfibrils were infrequently observed by TEM. In the skin equivalent, fibrillin-1 and elastin were detected by immunostaining 15 d after epidermization and TEM revealed the typical structure and organization of the elastic network in the dermis, with elastin deposition on the microfibrillar scaffold. This in vitro skin equivalent model is to our knowledge the first in which elastic fibers have been detected, thus demonstrating the influence of keratinocytes on the maturation and organization of the elastic network.