Organoids are three-dimensional cell cultures generated in vitro that represent simplified versions of an organ while retaining realistic micro-anatomy. Previous efforts in generating skin in vitro have largely focused on generating pure populations of skin cell types and then combining them, but this approach lacks the heterogeneity in real skin and fails to mimic the complex interaction between different skin layers. Researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine created skin organoids from a homogeneous population of mouse pluripotent stem cells in a 3D culture. These organoids contained self-organized skin layers and could spontaneously produce de novo hair follicles in a process that mimics normal embryonic hair folliculogenesis. The organoids also produced other skin appendages including sebaceous glands and adipocytes. The presence of hair follicles was a major accomplishment as the generation of hair follicles in vitro has only been previously accomplished using primary cells isolated from embryonic skin.
In the paper, the authors claimed, “This in vitro model of skin development will be useful for studying mechanisms of hair follicle induction, evaluating hair growth or inhibitory drugs, and modeling skin diseases.” Furthermore, these findings serve as a blueprint for the manufacture of the entire skin organ using stem cells.
The article, titled “Hair Follicle Development in Mouse Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Skin Organoids,” was published in Cell Reports.