Keratinocytes suppress transforming growth factor-β1 expression by fibroblasts in cultured skin substitutes

I. C. Le Poole, Steven T. Boyce*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 is a multipotent growth factor with an important role in tissue homeostasis. This growth factor regulates cell proliferation, adhesion, migration and differentiation, as well as extracellular matrix deposition. The temporal secretion and activation of latent TGP-β1 is thus of major importance to physiological and pathological processes and in wound healing and tumour formation. Cultured skin substitutes, as used to treat extensive acute or chronic skin wounds, offer an attractive model to investigate cellular interactions in cytokine and growth factor expression and response in vitro. In the present investigation, expression of TGF-β1 was analysed in keratinocyte, fibroblast and melanocyte monolayer cultures, as well as in the dermal vs. epidermal components of reconstituted human skin. Immunohistology, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and Northern blotting were used to demonstrate expression at the RNA and protein level. In the monolayer cultures, levels of TGF-β1 synthesized by melanocytes were observed to be considerably elevated when compared with keratinocytes. Most TGF-β1, however, was secreted by fibroblasts. The relative contribution of the epidermal and dermal components of the skin substitutes to overall TGF-β1 levels was determined by comparing results obtained for either component in the presence and absence of fibroblasts and keratinocytes. From results obtained by ELISA it was apparent that TGF-β1 levels generated predominantly by fibroblasts within the skin substitutes were greatly reduced over time in the presence of keratinocytes. Suppression of fibroblast TGF- 1/4 expression in the presence of keratinocytes was also demonstrable at the RNA level by Northern blotting. Results obtained by immunohistochemistry suggest that most, if not all, of the growth factor was present in the latent form. It is therefore most likely that the observed effect results from a factor secreted by keratinocytes, which is capable of suppressing TGF-β1 synthesis by fibroblasts. These results suggest that expression of TGF-β1 by fibroblasts is downregulated by paracrine actions of keratinocytes in healing skin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-416
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Cultured skin substitutes
  • Transforming growth factor-β1
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


Dive into the research topics of 'Keratinocytes suppress transforming growth factor-β1 expression by fibroblasts in cultured skin substitutes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this