Ex vivo skinHuman Skin Explants

Human Skin Explant Models – from QIMA Life Sciences and its affiliate Monasterium Laboratory

We have access to healthy and lesional human skin explants…

…and the expertise to customize them to suit your needs

Human skin explant_ex vivo skin model_Healthy-skin-explants_Wound healing model

Complementary models also available at Monasterium Laboratory.

Human skin explant_ex vivo skin model_Healthy-skin-explants_skin microbiota model

Complementary models also available at Monasterium Laboratory.

Human skin explant_ex vivo skin model_Healthy-skin-explants_Re-innervation model

The human skin explants can be subjected to various forms of stress to mimic environmental factors:

  • Pollution (fine dust)
  • Solar exposure (UVA and UVB)
  • Blue light
  • Microplastics
  • Oxidative stress (H2O2)

Complementary models also available at Monasterium Laboratory.

Human skin explant_ex vivo skin model_Healthy-skin-explants_Models that mimic skin inflammation
Human skin explant_ex vivo skin model_Healthy-skin-explants_Dermal fillers
Intrinsic and photoaging models.

Complementary models also available at Monasterium Laboratory.

What Is A Human Skin Explant?

As a result of surgical procedures, especially plastic surgeries, a certain amount of residues are generated, like skin. Traditionally, this tissue was discarded, but over the years, it started to gain more value thanks to its potential use as a skin model (human skin explant). Today, much of this material is recovered for research and testing purposes.

Therefore, a human skin explant is simply skin recovered from a surgical procedure or a skin biopsy.

Why Are Skin Explants Important for Research and Testing?

Human skin explants have a great value in cosmetics, dermatology, and pharmacology. Before testing compounds or formulas on the skin of human patients during clinical stages of research and development, sufficient evidence of their efficacy is required.

The closer the models get to real skin, the stronger the evidence they will provide regarding efficacy in real conditions. Since human skin explants come from real human skin, they are indeed one of the most valuable models, and are also a great alternative to animal testing.

How Does QIMA Life Sciences Obtain Its Skin Explants?

The supply of skin explants can be challenging since it requires full compliance with ethical regulations. Indeed, at QIMA Life Sciences we get access to human skin explants thanks to our extensive clinical network and in full respect of all the required procedures.

These include:

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Official authorizations


The relevant government institutions and ethics comittees authorize QIMA Life Sciences to collect, store and condition human skin and its appendages for their use in research programs.

Biological sample transfer contracts


Contributing hospitals and clinics give their consent to donate surgical residues for scientific purposes.

Informed consent


Skin donors give their consent before surgery, allowing their skin to be utilized for research of pharmaceutical, dermatological, and cosmetic formulas anonymously.

How Do We Condition Our Human Skin Explants?

Briefly, punches or rectangular-shaped samples of uniform size are extracted from the donor’s skin. These samples are then carefully positioned within a cell culture insert (tissue retainers that hold the explant), ensuring they remain at an air-liquid interface when placed inside the well containing the culture medium. Alternative, depending on the type of project and the study’s requirements, they can be placed on top of a sterile gauze inside a Petri dish containing the appropriate culture medium.

The incubation of the skin under suitable conditions keeps the tissue alive and functional for around 10 days, ready to be used for research.

A non-treated control is always included in all our experiments, and tests are conducted to ensure the quality of the explant.

Schematic representation of one of the various approaches for conditioning explants to serve as an ex vivo human skin model.

The characterization of our models and the evaluation of the efficacy of your products are performed through various techniques:

Are All Human Skin Explants Identical?

Human skin explants exhibit an intrinsic variability influenced by their origin and characteristics (as detailed below). This variability can prove advantageous when aiming to broaden the scope of claims of product or compound in terms of a diverse demographic (differences in sex, age, etc.).

Nevertheless, there are instances where a low level of diversity is preferred. In these cases, skin samples are conditioned from a single explant of a same donor.

Variability among explants can be due to:

Origin: Skin residues come from various surgical procedures, such as facelifts, mammoplasties, abdominal plasties, thigh lifts, or arm lifts.

Demographical aspects: Skin explants can differ based on the sex, age, and phototype of the donor.

Healthy vs. Pathological: The donor’s health state, including allergies and skin conditions, can also influence the characteristics of the explants. Depending on the donor, explans can be categorized as “healthy” or “pathological.” Skin explants from individuals with specific skin conditions, like atopic dermatitis patients, are of particular interest for studying these disorders. Another possibility, however, is to mimic pathological conditions in vitro, for instance by adding certain cytokines into the culture medium.

What Are The Applications of Skin Explants in Research?

The use of human skin explants offers a versatile platform for various research applications in dermatology, cosmetics, and pharmacology. Several research themes can be explored by using ex vivo skin models, including but not limited to skin conditions, like atopic dermatitis or psoriasis, skin barrier function, wound healing processes, skin microbiota and the effects of dermal fillers.

Application of compounds and finished products can be done either on the epidermis at the air-liquid interphase (mimicking topical application), directly into the medium (mimicking systemic delivery) or by intradermal injection (mimicking intradermal delivery). Also, according to the experimental setting, the application can be done either once (single application) or several times (repeated application).