Recent advances in microfluidic cell cultures enable the construction of in vitro human skin models that can be used for drug toxicity testing, disease study. However, current in vitro skin model have limitations to emulate real human skin due to the simplicity of model. In this paper, we describe the development of 'skin-on-a-chip' to mimic the structures and functional responses of the human skin. The proposed model consists of 3 layers, on which epidermal, dermal and endothelial components originated from human, were cultured. The microfluidic device was designed for co-culture of human skin cells and each layer was separated by using porous membranes to allow interlayer communication. Skin inflammation and edema were induced by applying tumor necrosis factor alpha on dermal layer to demonstrate the functionality of the system. The expression levels of proinflammatory cytokines were analyzed to illustrate the feasibility. In addition, we evaluated the efficacy of therapeutic drug testing model using our skin chip. The function of skin barrier was evaluated by staining tight junctions and measuring a permeability of endothelium. Our results suggest that the skin-on-a-chip model can potentially be used for constructing in vitro skin disease models or for testing the toxicity of cosmetics or drugs.
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