A 3D in vitro model of the dermoepidermal junction amenable to mechanical testing

Jangwook P. Jung, Wei Han Lin, Megan J. Riddle, Jakub Tolar, Brenda M. Ogle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Recessive dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (RDEB) is caused by mutations in collagen-type VII gene critical for the dermoepidermal junction (DEJ) formation. Neither tissues of animal models nor currently available in vitro models are amenable to the quantitative assessment of mechanical adhesion between dermal and epidermal layers. Here, we created a 3D in vitro DEJ model using extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins of the DEJ anchored to a poly(ethylene glycol)-based slab (termed ECM composites) and seeded with human keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts. Keratinocytes and fibroblasts of healthy individuals were well maintained in the ECM composite and showed the expression of collagen type VII over a 2-week period. The ECM composites with healthy keratinocytes and fibroblasts exhibited yield stress associated with the separation of the model DEJ at 0.268 ± 0.057 kPa. When we benchmarked this measure of adhesive strength with that of the model DEJ fabricated with cells of individuals with RDEB, the yield stress was significantly lower (0.153 ± 0.064 kPa) consistent with our current mechanistic understanding of RDEB. In summary, a 3D in vitro model DEJ was developed for quantification of mechanical adhesion between epidermal- and dermal-mimicking layers, which can be utilized for assessment of mechanical adhesion of the model DEJ applicable for Epidermolysis Bullosa-associated therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3231-3238
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article. Correspondence to: J. P. Jung; e-mail: jjung1@lsu.edu Contract grant sponsor: National Institutes of Health R01 HL137204 (BMO)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • Epidermolysis Bullosa
  • collagen type VII
  • extracellular matrix
  • lap shear test


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