The skin is the cover of the body and isolates the organic components of the external environment. The human skin is composed, essentially, of three layers: epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue. The epidermal cells, the keratinocytes, are renewed constantly, but certain pathological conditions, such psoriasis, can affect the proliferation and differentiation of these cells. Different approaches have been proposed for studying events involved in the differentiation of keratinocytes. In this context, emerges stem cells, whose potential for self renewal and ability to generate distinct cell lines with different functions have allowed therapeutic applications of these cells, in addition to the study of biological processes. An important source of stem cells is the human umbilical cord blood (hUCB), formed by hematopoietic and non hematopoietic (mesenchymal) components. The isolation of these cells involves a safe and simple procedure. Considering that epidermal stem cells are the complex obtaining and the isolation procedure gives low yields, we are interested in evaluating the potential of differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells from hUCB into keratinocytes, and to study some molecular events involved this process such as the expression of epidermal cells markers (p63, cytokeratin 5 and 10), and the expression and activity of different proteases as the tissue kallikreins 5, 6 and 7. The development of protocols for differentiation of stem cells into keratinocytes may provide useful tools for studying the biology of skin using in vitro models opening the perspectives to the understanding of pathological conditions.
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