Elastin-associated microfibrils (10 nm) in a three-dimensional fibroblast culture

Raul Fleischmajer, Paul Contard, Elaine Schwartz, E. Douglas MacDonald, Lloydstone Jacobs, Lynn Y. Sakai

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62 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to present a three-dimensional dermal fibroblast model. Skin fibroblasts cultured in this system deposit large amounts of collagen and microfibrils. Fibroblasts were seeded onto a nylon filtration mesh and incubated in the presence or absence of ascorbic acid. Collagen fibril formation was found in the presence of ascorbic acid whereas microfibril formation was seen independent of ascorbic acid supplementation. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that microfibrils were labeled with fibrillin at 67 nm periodicity. Isolated microfibrils studied by rotary shadowing had a beaded appearance consisting of beads linked to each other by a filamentous structure. The spaces between the beads ranged from 10.00-33.33 nm, suggesting that these microfibrils may have an extension-contraction mechanism. Furthermore, the size and spacing of the beads were similar to that seen in microfibrils from tissues (measured after rotary shadowing). Fibroblasts cultured in a three-dimensional mesh represent an effective in vitro model with which to study microfibril formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-643
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1991


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