Morphological appearance of epidermal cells cultured on fibroblast-reorganized collagen gels

Frederick Grinnell, Akira Takashima, Cheryl Lamke-Seymour

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33 Scopus citations


Human foreskin fibroblasts were used to reorganize hydrated collagen gels into a dermal-like matrix, after which freshly isolated keratinocytes isolated from rabbit ear skin were placed on the surfaces of the matrices and cultured for up to 12 days. Transmission electron microscopy revealed 8-12 cell layers of epidermal cells organized in three distinct strata. The basal stratum consisted of cuboidal to columnar cells with typical complement of organelles, oval nuclei, and prominent tonofilaments inserting into desmosomes. Mitotic cells often were found at this level. There was no well-defined basement membrane region; rather, many of the cells appeared to be in close contact with collagen fibrils. The intermediate stratum of suprabasal cells consisted of elongated cells that had reduced organelles, but still were connected to each other by desmosomes. Finally, the superficial stratum of suprabasal cells contained cells that were completely flattened and often appeared to be sloughing off the apical surfaces of the cultures. Indirect immunofluorescence studies carried out on frozen sections revealed bullous pemphigoid antigen associated with basal epidermal cells; pemphigus vulgaris antigen around the epidermal cells of all strata, and keratin present in the epidermal cells of all strata. Filaggrin was observed in punctate and fibrillar arrangements in suprabasal cells. Fibronectin was found in a linear deposit at the dermal-epidermal junction and around the fibroblasts in the reorganized collagen gels. Type-IV collagen and laminin, however, were not detected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-21
Number of pages9
JournalCell and Tissue Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1986


  • Collagen gels
  • Dermis
  • Epidermis
  • Man
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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