In vitro skin model for the investigation of squamous cell carcinoma (multiple variant and tumor stages)

Integration of a squamous cell carcinoma cell line (SCC- cell line) into multiple layers of an in vitro skin model enables the simulation of squamous cell carcinoma progression



Field of application:

More than 200,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) are diagnosed in Germany per year. This increasing number is due to prolonged sun bathing, extended outdoor activities and general exposure to sunlight. Non melanoma skin cancer predominantly occurs in sun-exposed skin areas like head and neck, forehead, nose, lips and hands with actinic keratosis being the most common form. As a pre-cancerous form (precursor), an invasive squamous cell carcinoma will develop if left untreated. In addition to surgical treatments, numerous non-surgical procedures, including photodynamic therapy (PDT) are available.

We have developed an in vitro squamous cell carcinoma skin model of various complexities to investigate UV-light associated skin damage. This enables further understanding into squamous cell carcinoma disease progression and the development of therapeutic strategies. The phototoxic, sun protective or photo-sensitizing potential of substances can be analyzed to determine their potential as treatments towards non-melanoma skin cancer.

Endpoints/Outcome parameter

Photo-sensitizing, phototoxic substances or formulations can be topically or systemically applied to these models and different protocols for photodynamic therapy can be tested. The properties of tumor specific substances, addressing penetration potential, stability and reduction of side effects can be investigated.

Readout parameter

After treatment of the skin model various parameters e.g. viability, apoptosis, necrosis, cytokine profiles (inflammation), gene up/down-regulation can be measured with the following analytical methods

  • Raman-Spectrometry
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Histology / Immuno-Histology
  • Fluorescence Microscopy
  • Laser Scanning Microscopy

Quality management and validation

SOP, Quality Control, Positive and Negative Control, Reference Substances


  • Design and analysis of a squamous cell carcinoma in vitro
    Biomaterials 34 (2013) 7401-7407

    In vitro-Hauttestsysteme zur Untersuchung lichtassoziierter Hautschädigung
    Biospektrum 02.15, S.172-174,21. Jahrgang, Springer
    DOI: 10.1007/s12268-015-0557-z