[Petrova, A., Celli, A., Jacquet, L., Dafou, D., Crumrine, D., Hupe, M., Arno, M., Hobbs, C., Cvoro, A., Karagiannis, P., Devito, L., Sun, R., Adame, L., Vaughan, R., McGrath, J., Mauro, T., & Ilic, D. (2014). 3D In Vitro Model of a Functional Epidermal Permeability Barrier from Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Stem Cell Reports DOI: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2014.03.009.]
•Manufacture of HEEs with a functional epidermal barrier in vitro from hESCs/iPSCs
•Unique model for skin diseases with defective epidermal permeability barriers
•Easily adaptable model for use in regenerative and aesthetic medicine
•Cost-effective model for testing new drugs and cosmetics
Cornification and epidermal barrier defects are associated with a number of clinically diverse skin disorders. However, a suitable in vitro model for studying normal barrier function and barrier defects is still lacking. Here, we demonstrate the generation of human epidermal equivalents (HEEs) from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). HEEs are structurally similar to native epidermis, with a functional permeability barrier. We exposed a pure population of hESC/iPSC-derived keratinocytes, whose transcriptome corresponds to the gene signature of normal primary human keratinocytes (NHKs), to a sequential high-to-low humidity environment in an air/liquid interface culture. The resulting HEEs had all of the cellular strata of the human epidermis, with skin barrier properties similar to those of normal skin. Such HEEs generated from disease-specific iPSCs will be an invaluable tool not only for dissecting molecular mechanisms that lead to epidermal barrier defects but also for drug development and screening.