2006 Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis Volume 606, Issues 1-2, 14 July 2006, Pages 39-51
L’Oréal, Advanced Research, Life Sciences, Safety Research Department, Phototoxicity-Genotoxicity-Carcinogenicity Group, 1, avenue E. Schueller, F-93600 Aulnay Sous Bois, France

Development of genotoxicity test procedures with Episkin®, a reconstructed human skin model: Towards new tools for in vitro risk assessment of dermally applied compounds?

Today reconstructed skin models that simulate human skin, such as Episkin®, are widely used for safety or efficacy pre-screening. Moreover, they are of growing interest for regulatory purposes in the framework of alternatives to animal testing. In order to reduce and eventually replace results of in vivo genotoxicity testing with in vitro data, there is a need to develop new complementary biological models and methods with improved ability to predict genotoxic risk. This can be achieved if these new assays do take into account exposure conditions that are more relevant than in the current test systems. In an attempt to meet this challenge, two new applications using a human reconstructed skin model for in vitro genotoxicity assessment are proposed.The skin is the target organ for dermally exposed compounds or environmental stress. Although attempts have been made to develop genotoxicity test procedures in vivo on mouse skin, human reconstructed skin models have not been used for in vitro genotoxicity testing so far, although they present clear advantages over mouse skin for human risk prediction. This paper presents the results of the development of a specific protocol allowing to perform the comet assay, a genotoxicity test procedure, on reconstructed skin. The comet assay was conducted after treatment of Episkin® with UV, Lomefloxacin and UV or 4-nitroquinoline-N-oxide (4NQO). Treatment with the sunscreen Mexoryl was able to reduce the extent of comet signal.A second approach to use reconstructed epidermis in genotoxicity assays is also proposed. Indeed, the skin is a biologically active barrier driving the response to exposure to chemical agents and their possible metabolites. A specific co-culture system (Figure 1) using Episkin® to perform the regular micronucleus assay is presented. Micronucleus induction in L5178Y cells cultured underneath Episkin® was assessed after treatment of the reconstructed epidermis with mitomycin C, cyclophosphamide or apigenin. This second way of using human reconstructed skin for genotoxicity testing aims at improving the relevance of exposure conditions in in vitro genotoxicity assays for dermally applied compounds.