DOI: 10.1111/ics.12937 ISSN: 0142-5463

A modified protocol for studying filaggrin degradation using a reconstructed human epidermis model under low and high humidity

Qilong Chen, Ning Wei, Yina Lu
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry
  • Dermatology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Aging
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)



Filaggrin (FLG) is an essential protein that plays a vital role in maintaining skin barrier function and moisture levels, allowing the skin to adapt to dry environments. However, the precise temporal dynamics of FLG metabolism in the human epidermis remain poorly understood, and suitable tools to study these time‐dependent effects are currently lacking.


To investigate the molecular mechanisms and time course of FLG metabolism and skin barrier function under high‐ and low‐humidity conditions, utilizing a reconstructed epidermis model.


EpiSkin specimens cultured under humid or dry conditions for varying durations (2–48 h) were compared by assessing FLG degradation and skin barrier formation using immunofluorescence staining and western blotting.


Under conditions of low humidity, the proteolysis of FLG in EpiSkin increased between 4 and 12 h and was accompanied by elevated levels of cysteine–aspartic protease (caspase)‐14. The expression of peptidyl arginine deiminase 1 and calpain 1 also increased at 4 h. However, after 24 h, the expression of these three FLG‐degrading proteins significantly decreased. Conversely, the levels of pyrrolidone‐5‐carboxylic acid and urocanic acid initially decreased at 2 h and then increased between 12 and 24 h. Additionally, the expression of skin barrier proteins, such as FLG, transglutaminase 5, loricrin and zonula occludens‐1, decreased starting from 12 h. Notably, epidermal cell viability and activity were also inhibited.


We propose a reliable and ethical model to study the temporal dynamics of FLG metabolism and its role in skin barrier function. Using a commercially reconstructed epidermis to mimic dry skin formation obviates the need for animal and human testing.

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