Comparison of gene expression profiles in human keratinocyte mono-layer cultures, reconstituted epidermis and normal human skin; transcriptional effects of retinoid treatments in reconstituted human epidermis

Experimental Dermatology, 11(1):59-74


Bioalternatives, Gençay, France.
SkinEthic Laboratories, Nice, France.


In order to validate a model for predictive screening of dermatological drugs, we used a customized cDNA macro-array system containing 475 skin-related genes to analyze the gene expression patterns in human keratinocytes from different origins: (1) normal human epidermal keratinocyte mono-layer cultures, (2) the commercially available SkinEthic reconstituted human epidermis model, and (3) biopsies of normal human epidermis. Few markers of those that were detected significantly in keratinocyte mono-layers or in reconstituted epidermis were undetected or detected at very low level in the normal epidermis biopsies. A comparative expression of more than 100 markers could be evidenced in both normal epidermis and reconstituted epidermis samples; however, only 90% of these were detected in keratinocyte mono-layers: expression of several terminal differentiation markers, such as filaggrin, loricrin, and corneodesmosin were strongly detected in normal epidermis and reconstituted epidermis, but were not significantly expressed in keratinocyte mono-layers.
Under the experimental conditions described herein, the reconstituted human epidermis model was found to significantly reproduce the gene expression profile of normal human epidermis. Using the same methodology, we then investigated the effects of all-trans retinoic acid, 9-cis retinoic acid, all-trans retinol and a commercialized tretinoin-containing cream (Retacnyl) on the gene expression profiles of reconstituted human epidermis. According to the nature and the length of the treatments, more than 40 genes were found significantly modified. Among the genes whose expression was decreased, we found cytokeratins 1, 10, 2E, and 6B, several cornified envelope precursors, integrins alpha 3, alpha 6, beta 1, beta 4, some components of desmosomes, of hemi-desmosomes and of the epidermal basement membrane. Transcriptional upregulation was observed for keratins 18 and 19, autocrine and paracrine growth factors such as HB-EGF, IGF 1, PDGF-A, calgranulins A and B, interleukin-1 alpha and the other IL-1-related markers, type II IL-1 receptor and type I IL-1-receptor antagonist.
Our results confirm most of the known effects of retinoids on human epidermis, but also give new insights into their complex pharmacological activity on skin. The reconstituted human epidermis used proves to be a highly predictive model for efficacy evaluation of skin-targeted compounds, such as retinoids.

© 2002 Munksgaard.

KEYWORDS: Retinoic acid; Retinal; Human epidermis; Keratinocytes; Relative gene expression; Reconstituted human epidermis; cDNA array; Differentiation; Interleukin-1

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