Inflammation-induced tissue damage mimicking GvHD in human skin models as test platform for immunotherapeutics

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Julia Wallstabe
Lydia Bussemer
Florian Groeber-Becker
Lukas Freund
Miriam Alb
Mariola Dragan
Ana Maria Waaga-Gasser
Rafael Jakubietz
Hermann Kneitz
Andreas Rosenwald
Silke Rebhan
Heike Walles
Stephan Mielke


With cellular products being on the front run there is a rising demand for non-animal-based test platforms to predict, study and treat undesired immunity. Here, we generated human organotypic skin models from human biopsies isolating and expanding keratinocytes, fibroblasts and microvascular endothelial cells finally allowing to seed these components on a collagen matrix or a biological vascularized scaffold matrix in a bioreactor. Afterwards, we were able to induce inflammation-based tissue damage by pre-stimulated mismatched allogeneic lymphocytes and/or inflammatory cytokine containing supernatants histomorphologically mimicking severe graft versus host disease (GvHD) of the skin. The effects could be prevented by the addition of immunosuppressants to the models. Consequently, these models would harbor a promising potential to serve as a test platform for the prediction, prevention and treatment of GvHD. This would also allow functional studies of immune effectors and suppressors including but not limited to allodepleted lymphocytes, gamma-delta T cells, regulatory T cells and mesenchymal stromal cells which would otherwise be limited to animal models. Thus, the current test platform developed with the limitation given that no professional APC are in place could highly reduce animal testing for investigation of novel immune therapies.

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Wallstabe, J., Bussemer, L., Groeber-Becker, F., Freund, L., Alb, M., Dragan, M., Waaga-Gasser, A. M., Jakubietz, R., Kneitz, H., Rosenwald, A., Rebhan, S., Walles, H. and Mielke, S. (2020) “Inflammation-induced tissue damage mimicking GvHD in human skin models as test platform for immunotherapeutics”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation. doi: 10.14573/altex.1907181.