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Skin-Derived Precursor (SKP) Cells For Regenerative Medicine

The multipotency of Skin-derived Precursor (SKP) stem cells has generated much interest in the research field. These cells show the expression of stem cell markers and undergo self- renewal. Additionally, they are present in the dermis and can be isolated from skin biopsies without much influence of the age or health status of the individual from which the samples were isolated.

Skin-derived Precursor (SKPs) can be differentiated into cells ranging from neuronal cells, adipocytes, fibroblasts, smooth muscle, and Schwann cells. 2017-published research in Biology Open reported several developments such as their formation of insulin-producing islet-like cells in vitro showing the functions of the cells paving the way for the use of these cells in diabetes treatment. Skin-derived Precursor (SKPs) have also been shown capable of expansion and forming Schwann cells that open up the potential of these cells for use in treating neurological damage. They also secrete FGF and VEGF that promote the division of neural cells and angiogenesis.

A research article in Stem Cells International (2018) described the differentiation potential of these cells. Cultivation of SKPs in neurobasal medium supplemented with neurotrophic factors like nerve growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor formed neuron-like cells expressing βIII-tubulin (a neuronal marker). Some of the cells also expressed KCC2: a K+-Cl co-transporter.  The co-culture of hSKPs-derived neurons with primary murine glia cultures resulted in the expression of synapsin to generate action potentials. The use of neurobasal medium containing N2 supplement, forskolin, and heregulin β resulted in the formation of glial cells. Culturing Skin-derived Precursor (SKPs) with SCs factor and endothelin-3 resulted in the formation of pigmented melanocytes that underwent migration from the dermis to the epidermis.

The karyotype of hSKPs showed stability for 15 months and was found to be poorly immunogenic, as evidenced by no change though a proinflammatory condition was stimulated.

In 2013, the Journal of Pediatric Surgery reported the differentiation of Skin-derived Precursor (SKPs) into enteric neurons and glia to treat Hirschsprung disease, a disease in human neonates with improper colonization of enteric ganglion cells. Mice that received implants of these SKP-derived cells showed the colonization of these cells in their gut.

The neurogenic potential of the Skin-derived Precursor (SKPs) has also been checked in a 2014 study by Krause et al who transplanted Schwann cells induced from human SKPs into sciatic nerves of SCID mice showing local demyelination. The transplant region showed the presence of human cells with the formation of myelinating Schwann cell phenotype.

2017-published research in Scientific Reports reported the generation of corneal epithelial cells from Skin-derived Precursor (SKPs). Improvements in corneal endothelial dysfunction animal models was seen in terms of improved transparency of corneas and clarity of vision.

Another factor is their presence in the dermis throughout adulthood in humans, thus, Skin-derived Precursor (SKPs) become significant cells of interest worth studying their multipotency. This becomes vital in the field of regenerative medicine that seeks to heal chronic diseases.


Leithe Budel, Karima Djabali. Rapid isolation and expansion of skin-derived precursor cells from human primary fibroblast cultures. Biology Open 2017 6: 1745-1755; doi: 10.1242/bio.025130

Ru Dai, Wei Hua, Heng Xie, Wei Chen, Lidan Xiong, and Li Li. The Human Skin-Derived Precursors for Regenerative Medicine: Current State, Challenges, and Perspectives. Stem Cells International Volume 2018; Article ID 8637812:  11 pages.

  1. P. Krause, S. Dworski, K. Feinberg et al., “Direct genesis of functional rodent and human schwann cells from skin mesenchymal precursors,” Stem Cell Reports, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 85–100, 2014.
  2. K. M. Kwok, P. K. H. Tam, and E. S. W. Ngan, “Potential use of skin-derived precursors (SKPs) in establishing a cell-based treatment model for Hirschsprung’s disease,” Journal of Pediatric Surgery, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 619–628, 2013.
  3. Shen, P. Sun, C. Zhang, L. Yang, L. Du, and X. Wu, “Therapy of corneal endothelial dysfunction with corneal endothelial cell-like cells derived from skin-derived precursors,” Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 13400–13413, 2017.

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