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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Comparison of Bovine Udder Skin with Human and Porcine Skin in Percutaneous Permeation Experiments

Frank Netzlaff, Ulrich F. Schaefer, Claus-Michael Lehr, Peter Meiers, Jessica Stahl, Manfred Kietzmann and Frank Niedorf

Rat and pig animal skin has been the most common replacement material for human skin for use in in vitro permeability experiments. Unfortunately, the permeability barrier of skin from laboratory animals is known to be relatively weak, due to significant follicular transport. Pig skin has been shown to be a suitable model for human skin. Unfortunately, it cannot be gathered from the regular slaughtering process, which makes it unsuitable for permeation experiments. We therefore studied the suitability of bovine udder skin, an untreated waste material of the butchering process, as a possible replacement material for use in in vitro permeability tests. We investigated the barrier strength of bovine udder skin against four different substances, and its histology and lipid profile, in comparison with pig skin and heatseparated human epidermis. Pig and human skin were found to be equally permeable, whilst bovine udder skin seemed to exhibit a weaker, but less variable, barrier against caffeine, benzoic acid, testosterone, and flufenamic acid. The skin of all three species contained variable contents of the major lipid classes: cholesterol, ceramides, cholesterol ester, fatty acids and triglycerides. Morphological differences mainly comprised variations in the density of hair follicles. Based on these results, the amount of free fatty acids and triglycerides and the density of hair follicles seem to be important factors in the differences between the skin barriers in the three species.