1997 Br J Plast Surg 1997 Sep ;50(6):408-415
University Department of Medicine, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, UK

Keratinocytes contract human dermal extracellular matrix and reduce soluble fibronectin production by fibroblasts in a skin composite model

Composites of human de-epidermised acellular dermis and normal adult human keratinocytes and fibroblasts were examined for the ability of cells to contract these composites. Image analysis of the outline of the composites showed that, in this model, keratinocytes alone or in the presence of fibroblasts caused highly significant contraction (of the order of 25% by day 12). There was no significant contraction of the dermis with fibroblasts alone or in the absence of cells. The presence or absence of basement membrane antigens did not influence the effect of keratinocytes on dermal contraction. Analysis of the conditioned media from these composites showed that the greatest fibronectin production was seen with fibroblasts alone in the presence of basement membrane. Keratinocytes alone produced little fibronectin irrespective of the presence of the basement membrane. If keratinocytes were present with fibroblasts, however, then fibronectin production was significantly reduced both in the presence and absence of the basement membrane, indicating that keratinocytes modify dermal fibroblast extracellular matrix production. This study shows that while keratinocytes and fibroblasts are clearly influencing each other's activity in this human skin composite model, under the circumstances we describe it is the keratinocyte and not the fibroblast which causes contraction of the human de-epidermised acellular dermis