In this study we have performed a cell kinetic characterization of growth and growth arrest of keratinocytes derived from normal human skin. Proliferative activity of the cell cultures was analysed with a flow cytometric technique, measuring relative DNA content and iododeoxyuridine (IdUrd) incorporation simultaneously. Normal human keratinocytes were grown in keratinocyte growth medium (KGM) and growth arrest was induced by using either keratinocyte basal medium (KBM) or KGM supplemented with TGF-beta 1. It was found that human keratinocytes grown in KGM plus TGF-beta 1 were growth-arrested within 52 hours. The rate of IdUrd incorporation into DNA decreased by more than 95% after 52 hours and paralleled the decrease of cells in S-phase. Within 52 hours after addition of TGF-beta 1, 79% of the growth-arrested cells were in the G0/G1-phase of the cell cycle, a situation that approaches that of the normal epidermis. Growth arrest of human keratinocytes in KBM showed a similar decrease in the rate of IdUrd incorporation. However, the decrease in IdUrd incorporation was not reflected in a decrease in cells in S-phase, suggesting that the cells were blocked in G0/G1, S or G2/M-phase rather than selectively in the physiological growth arrest state of G0/G1. Secondly, we investigated the kinetics of the cells when they were restimulated after growth arrest. We found that after termination of the growth arrest in KGM supplemented with TGF-beta 1 the cells require 6 to 8 hours to initiate DNA synthesis, with a continued decrease in the G0/G1 population, suggesting that the cells are recruited as a cohort. After growth arrest induced by KBM, cells also require 6 to 8 hours in KGM to initiate DNA synthesis, but the cells are not recruited as a cohort. We conclude that growth arrest induced by TGF-beta 1 is the preferred system in which to study induction of keratinocyte proliferation, since it induces a state of quiescence that approaches that of normal human epidermis.

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