Skin from Gottingen minipigs was used as a source of tissue for organ and cell culture and compared to human skin for growth conditions and sensitivity to irritants. Optimal organ culture conditions were determined, based on the preservation of the histological structure. These included serum-free, growth factor-free conditions with a calcium concentration of 1.5mM. Formulations in which the calcium concentration were low (0.075–0.15mM) failed to support tissue viability (even in the presence of dialyzed serum). Epidermal keratinocytes were grown from tissue explants and as single cells from enzyme-disrupted tissue. Optimal keratinocyte growth was achieved using a serum-free, growth factor-supplemented culture medium with a calcium concentration of 0.15mM. Fibroblasts were optimally grown from explant cultures using a medium with 1.5mM calcium and 10% fetal bovine serum. The conditions that were optimal for maintenance of intact pig skin, as well as for the isolated cells, are the same conditions that have been shown previously to be optimal for intact human skin and skin cells. In additional studies, pig skin keratinocytes and fibroblasts were exposed to a panel of contact irritants and contact sensitizers. Using growth inhibition as the response, the median effective dose values with each agent were very similar to the values previously determined for human epidermal keratinocytes and human dermal fibroblasts. Taken together, these data suggest that the skin from the Gottingen minipig can be used as a surrogate for human skin in ex vivo skin safety studies.
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Vol. 44 • No. 7