Skin corrosion test: a comparison between reconstructed human epidermis and full thickness skin models

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Abstract

Currently, there is a strong global trend towards the development of in vitro models to replace the use of animals in safety evaluation tests. Reconstructed Human Epidermis (RHE) models have been employed as an alternative method to animal testing of skin corrosion and irritation potential of chemical compounds. However, the consequences of an absence of the dermal compartment in these models should be considered since the cross-talk between fibroblasts and keratinocytes is fundamental for promoting proper epidermal stratification, homeostasis, inflammatory response and wound healing. In this study, we compare in-house developed models of Reconstructed Human Epidermis (i.e. USP-RHE) and full thickness skin (i.e. USP-FTS) regarding their response when submitted to skin corrosion assays, based on Guideline 431 (OECD). The results show that both models correctly classified the four substances tested (2-phenylethyl bromide, benzylacetone, lactic acid, octanoic acid) as corrosive or non-corrosive. Furthermore, we have demonstrated higher cell viability of the USP-FTS model compared to the USP-RHE model, a sign of its improved barrier function, following the exposure to the substances test on the corrosion assay. This emphasizes the importance of employing in vitro models that are more physiologically relevant and that better mimic the in vivo situation for the toxicological screening of substances.

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