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Open Access Highly Accessed Methodology article

Characterization of extracellular matrix macromolecules in primary cultures of equine keratinocytes

Michelle B Visser* and Christopher C Pollitt

Author Affiliations

The Australian Equine Laminitis Research Unit, School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 4072, Australia

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BMC Veterinary Research 2010, 6:16  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-6-16

Published: 15 March 2010



Most research to date involving laminins and extracellular matrix protein function in both normal and pathological conditions involves in vitro culture of keratinocytes. Few methods are established to allow for prolonged propagation of keratinocytes from equine tissues, including the hoof lamellae. In this study we modified cell isolation and culture techniques to allow for proliferation and sub-culturing of equine lamellar keratinocytes. Additionally, the production and processing of extracellular matrix molecules by skin and lamellar keratinocytes were studied.


Physical and proteolytic tissue separation in combination with media containing a calcium concentration of 0.6 mM in combination with additional media supplements proved optimal for proliferation and subculture of equine lamellar keratinocytes on collagen coated substratum. Immunofluorescence and immunoblotting studies confirmed that equine skin and lamellar keratinocytes produce Ln-332 in vitro and processing of this molecule follows that of other species. As well, matrix components including integrin alpha-6 (α6) and the hemidesmsome proteins, bullous pemphigoid antigen 1 (BP180) bullous pemphigoid antigen 2 (BP230) and plectin are also expressed.


Isolation of equine keratinocytes and study of the matrix and adhesion related molecules produced by them provides a valuable tool for future work in the veterinary field.