Comparison of Growth-inhibitory Agents by Fluorescence Imaging of Human Skin Re-epithelialization In vitro
Sofi Forsberg, Ulpu Saarialho-Kere and Ola Rollman
Drug screening procedures should preferably utilize experimental settings mimicking the in vivo situation. The aim of this study was to evaluate a skin explant model as a tool to identify topical agents with anti-proliferative properties in human epidermis. Re-epithelialization was initiated from a skin punch biopsy explanted onto de-epidermized dermis and cultured at the air–liquid interface in the presence of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitor PKI166, tacrolimus or established topical anti-psoriatic drugs: betamethasone, calcipotriol, dithranol and tazarotene. Neo-epidermal extension was traced by fluorescence microscopy prior to histomorphometric analysis. PKI166 at 1 µM decreased the mean radial outgrowth rate (–19%), frequency of BrdU-positive (–37%) and laminin 5-positive (–45%) cells, indicating reduced proliferation and migration of neo-epidermal keratinocytes. However, the papillomatosis index and epithelial thickness were not significantly affected. Calcipotriol at 1 µM had a similar effect on the outgrowth rate (–15%) and fraction of laminin 5-stained keratinocytes (–40%). Furthermore, calcipotriol significantly reduced mean neo-epidermal thickness. Equimolar concentrations of the other test compounds had no apparent effect on histology or outgrowth parameters. This study exemplifies the versatility of combined dynamic and morphological analysis and emphasizes the potential of epidermal growth factor receptor-directed inhibition in hyperproliferative disorders of the epidermis.