Human skin is the largest organ of the body.  Together with various other components such as glands, fingernails, and hair, it comprises a complex system known as the integumentary system.  Human skin performs a number of diverse functions critical to normal human health, including protection from environmental insults such as pathogens, physical damage, and radiation from the sun. 

In addition, skin helps maintain homeostasis, possesses metabolic activity, delivers touch, heat, and pain sensations via the peripheral nervous system, excretes salts and wastes, and aids in wound healing.  Primary skin cells are used in a variety of research and clinical applications:

  • Basic dermal biology
  • Wound healing and burn therapies
  • Malignant melanoma research
  • Toxicology studies
  • Epidermal model construction
  • Transdermal drug administration
  • Pigmentation and related disorders

Components of Skin

Skin is composed of the dermis and epidermis - each with unique components and functions.  Contained within each layer are mixtures of cells and connective tissue that provide form and function for the skin (Figure 1).  More specifically, keratinocytes, which produce keratin to harden and waterproof the skin, can be found in the epidermal layer.  Melanocytes, which produce melanin, provide pigmentation for both hair and skin, deliver protection from UV radiation, and are found in fewer numbers in the dermal layer.  Melanocytes intercalate up into the epidermis and establish close and critical interactions with keratinocytes to perform various cellular functions during development and normal maintenance of the skin.

Healthy skin also contains a number of other structural elements, including collagen fibers and fibroblasts located in the basement membrane, lending strength and structure to the skin.  Layered within the basement membrane matrix are dermal microvasculature and lymphatic vessels for blood circulation and waste removal, vital to proper skin function.

Applications for Cutaneous Cell Systems

Research applications for cutaneous cell systems are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 - Applications for cutaneous cell systems
Basic structure / function studies
  • Gene regulation
  • Signal transduction
  • Dermal modeling
  • Skin cell co-culturing
Cancer biology
  • Normal controls
  • Angiogenesis
  • Melanoma
Drug discovery / cosmetics / beauty and personal care studies
  • Secondary and tertiary screens
  • Toxicology screens
  • Pigmentation
  • Acne
  • HTS/HCA screening
In vitro alternatives to animal testing
  • Corrosivity
  • Irritancy
  • Cosmetics and topicals
  • Household products
  • Safety assessment testing services and products
Cell therapy
  • Wound healing
  • Burn therapy
  • Chronic skin ulcers
  • Cosmetics (wrinkles, scars, hair growth)
Figure 2 - Types of cutaneous cells.

A. Human dermal fibroblasts
B.  Human epidermal keratinocytes

C.  Human dermal microvascular endothelial cells

D.  Human epidermal melanocytes

Key dermal cell culture products

When you demand robust and relevant tools for your primary cell culture work, select from these and other key dermal cell culture products (Table 2) or visit our primary cell culture homepage.

Table 2 - Products for dermatological research*

* The cells listed in Table 2 are also available as proliferating cultures available in their respective sections.  All cells have tested negative for HIV-1, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, mycoplasmas, bacteria, yeast, and other fungi and are highly characterized.