3D Skin Tissue Models

Artificially grown, animal-free skin models are an important tool for simulating the effects of different conditions on epidermal tissues. In order to effectively culture such models, researchers must successfully induce keratinocytes to differentiate into the various layers of epidermis, requiring direct exposure to air as well as culture media that is used to support cell growth and differentiation.

Relevant applications and testing protocols:

  • Animal-free skin cell testing
  • Cosmetics product testing
  • Dermal toxicity assessment
  • Skin care product testing
  • Human skin cell growth
  • In vitro 3D epidermal tissue culture
  • Small-scale 3D skin growth
  • Human epidermal keratinocytes
  • Growing tissue with an air-liquid interface
  • Human epidermal reconstruction modeling

Discover a highly effective, time-saving method for culturing 3D skin epidermal tissue models

The Thermo Scientific Nunc Cell Culture Insert System offers a highly reliable, effective and efficient solution for culturing 3D epidermal skin models used in numerous applications—from skin care product testing to clinical screening of compounds and formulations.

The system for growing 3D skin tissue models includes:

  • A 24-well cell culture treated plate, preloaded with 4μm pore size polycarbonate membrane inserts
  • The proprietary 24-well carrier plate, designed to enable three different hanging height adjustments to accommodate required liquid-air interface culture and variable cell feeding protocols
Skin tissue culture carrier plate

How does skin tissue culture work?

The Nunc Cell Culture Insert System offers an effective method for culturing 3D skin epidermal tissue. The adjustable-height capabilities of the Thermo Scientific Nunc Carrier Plate simplify the experimental protocol, extending feeding intervals and saving time and labor in the process.

Initial experiments on cell attachment and expansion indicate that Nunc Cell Culture Inserts are an excellent growth substrate for human epidermal keratinocytes.

Read the application note ›

Highlights from the application note:

In the image below, the hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain shows the stratification of the epidermal skin model cultured using the Nunc Cell Culture Insert System.

Stratification of the epidermal skin model cultured

Cell viability assayMTT assay after two weeks of air-liquid interface culture of Human Epidermal Keratinocyte (HEKa) showed good viability in Nunc Cell Culture Inserts.
Skin tissue integrity assessmentAssessment of the integrity using transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) measurement after initial seeding of the HEKa cells in the 24-well inserts.

Depiction of cell culture inserts hanging in carrier plate, showing three different hanging positions

Dimensions given represent the height of the growth surface of the cell culture insert from the interior bottom of the well. Dimensions in figure are rounded to the tenth of a millimeter.


Tissue sections photographed at 400X magnification

We took advantage of the versatility of the carrier plate and tested different insert hanging positions, and corresponding increases in media volume, for different media change intervals of every 2, 3 or 4 days. This figure shows H&E stains of stratified skin model tissue after 12 days of air-liquid interface culture with media changes at varying intervals in carrier plates that suspended inserts above the wells at three different hanging heights. The higher hanging position with longer intervals worked as effectively as the lower hanging position with shorter intervals, saving time and labor during the skin tissue establishment.


A) Low hanging position: 0.5mL media per well, fed every 2 days.


B) Middle hanging position: 1.0mL media per well, fed every 3 days.


C) High hanging position: 1.5mL media per well, fed every 4 days.

What products do I need to buy for epidermal tissue culture?

cell culture cafe

Versatile is smart: The power behind culturing cells on a porous membrane

  • Pros and cons of standard cell culture vs. porous membrane cell culture
  • Wide range of applications for cell culture inserts
  • Construction of artificial skin models at air-liquid interface on cell culture insert
  • Precise positioning of cell culture inserts in the wells of the carrier plate

Watch webinar ›

For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.