Stem cell activities in human tissues are critical for tissue integrity and function. Maintaining keratinocyte stem cells (KSCs) stemness helps sustain healthy skin by supporting keratinocyte renewal, involving the formation of epidermal barriers. In this study, abalone collagen (AC) extracts with molecular weights of 3 kDa (AC 1) and 300 kDa (AC 2) were compared to the epidermal growth factor (EGF) for their effects on cell proliferation, cell migration (wound healing), spheroid formation, and the expression level of stem cell markers on human keratinocytes (HaCaT cells). Cell viability was measured by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay and cell proliferation was quantified by ATP and DNA content analysis and Sulforhodamine B (SRB) assays. Cell migration assay was determined using the scratch wound healing test. Spheroid formation was evaluated and the expression level of stem cell markers was investigated by western blot analysis. The results showed that AC 1 at the concentration of 100 µg/mL could stimulate HaCaT cell proliferation, migration, spheroid formation, and the expression level of stem cell markers (keratin 19, β-catenin, ALDH1A1) compared to the control. In conclusion, a smaller molecular weight of abalone collagen extract exhibits a better effect on keratinocytes proliferation, migration, and stemness, which could be a potential active ingredient in cosmeceutical products.
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