Ex vivo live full-thickness porcine skin model as a versatile in vitro testing method for skin barrier research

Jee Hyun Hwang, Haengdueng Jeong, Nahyun Lee, Sumin Hur, Nakyum Lee, Jeong Jun Han, Hye Won Jang, Wang Keun Choi, Ki Taek Nam, Kyung Min Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Since the European Union (EU) announced their animal testing ban in 2013, all animal experiments related to cosmetics have been prohibited, creating a demand for alternatives to animal experiments for skin studies. Here, we investigated whether an ex vivo live porcine skin model can be employed to study the safety and skin barrier-improving effects of hydroxyacids widely used in cosmetics for keratolytic peels. Glycolic acid (1–10%), salicylic acid (0.2–2%), and lactobionic acid (1.2–12%) were used as representative substances for α-hydroxyacid (AHA), β-hydroxyacid (BHA), and polyhydroxyacid (PHA), respectively. When hydroxyacids were applied at high concentrations on the porcine skin every other day for 6 days, tissue viability was reduced to 50–80%, suggesting that the toxicity of cosmetic ingredients can be evaluated with this model. Based on tissue viability, the treatment scheme was changed to a single exposure for 20 min. The protective effects of a single exposure of hydroxyacids on skin barrier function were evaluated by examining rhodamine permeability and epidermal structural components of barrier function using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and immunofluorescence (IF) staining. Lactobionic acid (PHAs) improved skin barrier function most compared to other AHAs and BHAs. Most importantly, trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), an important functional marker of skin barrier function, could be measured with this model, which confirmed the significant skin barrier-protective effects of PHAs. Collectively, we demonstrated that the ex vivo live full-thickness porcine skin model can be an excellent alternative to animal experiments for skin studies on the safety and efficacy of cosmetic ingredients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number657
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 2

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Ex vivo live full-thickness porcine skin model as a versatile in vitro testing method for skin barrier research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this