Kinetics of the maintenance of the epidermis
Journal article, 2013
The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin. It is comprised of keratin-containing cells called keratinocytes. Functionally, the epidermis serves as a physical barrier that can prevent infection and regulate body hydration. Maintenance and repair of the epidermis are important for human health. Mechanistically, these processes occur primarily via proliferation and differentiation of stem cells located in the basal monolayer. These processes are believed to depend on cell-cell communication and spatial constraints but existing kinetic models focus mainly on proliferation and differentiation. To address this issue, we present a mean-field kinetic model that takes these additional factors into account and describes the epidermis at a biosystem level. The corresponding equations operate with the populations of stem cells and differentiated cells in the basal layer. The keratinocytes located above the basal layer are treated at a more coarse-grained level by considering the thickness of the epidermis. The model clarifies the likely role of various negative feedbacks that may control the epidermis and, accordingly, provides insight into the cellular mechanisms underlying complex biological phenomena such as wound healing.