Human Primary Sebocyte assay for compound testing on lipid metabolism

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Sebocytes belong to the epidermal ecosystem together with hair follicules or in sebaceous glands. Sebocytes play a key role in skin health by producing sebum. These cells are now at the center of researchers’ attention for skin research, cosmetology and dermal discovery.

A better understanding of the physiological role of Sebocytes is required for the further development of innovative therapies linked to Human skin diseases (Acne, Dermatitis, skin healing and scarring…).

Sebaceous gland cells are more and more often used in in vitro cellular models to investigate their role in skin protection, together with cell signaling, cellular differentiation, sebum production (free Fatty Acids, triglycerides, wax esters, squalens)…

As far as lipid metabolism is concerned, it has been shown that Sebocytes contain 4- to 8-fold more cellular lipids than “commonly studied” Keratinocytes. In addition, lipid synthesis increases when Sebocytes proliferate while lipid accumulation is seen (cytoplasmic lipid droplets) during final Sebocyte differentiation. (1 – 3)

Suboptimal access to well-qualified sources of Human Primary Sebocytes (HPS) together with complex HPS culture methods, is slowing down the development of robust but simple in vitro cell-based assays.
To overcome these hurdles, Benjamin Buehrer and colleagues have recently developped and validated a robust cellular in vitro model focused on Sebocytes.

This 96-well plate HPS model does not require feeder layers and allows parallel analysis of 3 biological parameters:

  1. Detection and quantification of intracellular lipid droplets with fluorescent lipophilic Nile Red dye
  2. de novo  lipid and  fatty acids synthesis with 14C-acetate incorporation assay
  3. Cell viability monitoring by fluorescentcell labelling

See how Buehrer et al. miniaturize a Human Primary Sebocyte-based assay and generate normalized data to screen the compounds on Sebocyte’s lipid synthesis and accumulation !

Ask for your free copy of the poster “Validation of a high throughput Human Primary Sebocyte discovery platform” by Buehrer et al. (ZenBio)

tebu-bio primary cell sourcing Human Primary Sebocytes Zenbio

Zenbio’s Human Sebocytes by tebu-bio


(1) Stewart ME “Sebaceous gland lipids” (1992) Semin Dermatol, vol.11(2), 100-5.

(2)  Zouboulis et al. “The Human Sebocyte culture model provides new insights into development and management of Seborrhoea and Acne” (1998) Dermatology, Vol. 193, 21-31. DOI:10.1159/000017861.

(3) McNairn et al. “TGFß signaling regulates lipogenesis in human sebaceous glands cells” (2013) BMC Dermatology, Vol. 13:2.DOI 10.1186/1471-5945-13-2

Written by Philippe Fixe, PhD
Philippe Fixe is a former Marketing Manager at tebu-bio, passionate about innovation and R&D in Life sciences, Biotechnology, Medical research, Drug discovery, and also a keen photographer.