Biofabrication of Organotypic Full-Thickness Skin Constructs
Organotypic skin constructs have gained significant research and commercial interest in the face of EU bans on animal-tested cosmetic products. In this project, a simplified, full-thickness organotypic skin construct was prepared using fibroblasts encapsulated in a synthetic peptide hydrogel matrix, over which keratinocytes were allowed to proliferate, differentiate and stratify. The self-assembling peptide was synthesized using solid phase chemistry. The peptide was then used to prepare hydrogels of varying concentrations and the formulation was optimized based on gelation kinetics and mechanical strength. The long-term biocompatibility of this matrix with dermal fibroblasts was also evaluated. Finally, the in vitro skin constructs were characterized using histology and electron microscopy. Potential primers to evaluate gene expression of epithelial biomarkers were also identified. In conclusion, the peptide hydrogel is an appropriate matrix for culturing organotypic skin constructs due to its stability and low cytotoxicity. Building on this model, more elaborate systems can be cultured with the addition of more cell types. These biological constructs can potentially be used to screen therapeutic candidates, as well as to evaluate the effects of compounds on skin tissue viability, permeability and cellular gene expression.
KeywordsOrganotypic skin construct Ultra-small peptides Peptide hydrogel
This work was supported by the Youth Research Program (YRP) at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (Biomedical Research Council, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore).
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