Pathogenic and therapeutic role for NRF2 signaling in ultraviolet light-induced skin pigmentation.
ABSTRACT: Mottled skin pigmentation and solar lentigines from chronic photodamage with aging involve complex interactions between keratinocytes and melanocytes. However, the precise signaling mechanisms that could serve as therapeutic targets are unclear. Herein, we report that expression of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2), which regulates reduction-oxidation reactions, is altered in solar lentigines and photodamaged skin. Moreover, mottled skin pigmentation in humans could be treated with topical application of the NRF2 inducer sulforaphane (SF). Similarly, UV light-induced pigmentation of WT mouse ear skin could be treated or prevented with SF treatment. Conversely, SF treatment was unable to reduce UV-induced ear skin pigmentation in mice deficient in NRF2 or in mice with keratinocyte-specific conditional deletion of IL-6R?. Taken together, NRF2 and IL-6R? signaling are involved in the pathogenesis of UV-induced skin pigmentation, and specific enhancement of NRF2 signaling could represent a potential therapeutic target.
Project description:Environmental exposure to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes acute photodamage, premature aging, and skin cancer, attributable to UV-induced genotoxic, oxidative, and inflammatory stress. The transcription factor NRF2 [nuclear factor erythroid 2 (E2)-related factor 2] is the master regulator of the cellular antioxidant response protecting skin against various environmental stressors including UV radiation and electrophilic pollutants. NRF2 in epidermal keratinocytes can be activated using natural chemopreventive compounds such as the apocarotenoid bixin, an FDA-approved food additive and cosmetic ingredient from the seeds of the achiote tree (Bixa orellana). Here, we tested the feasibility of topical use of bixin for NRF2-dependent skin photoprotection in two genetically modified mouse models [SKH1 and C57BL/6J (Nrf2+/+ versus Nrf2-/- )]. First, we observed that a bixin formulation optimized for topical NRF2 activation suppresses acute UV-induced photodamage in Nrf2+/+ but not Nrf2-/- SKH1 mice, a photoprotective effect indicated by reduced epidermal hyperproliferation and oxidative DNA damage. Secondly, it was demonstrated that topical bixin suppresses PUVA (psoralen + UVA)-induced hair graying in Nrf2+/+ but not Nrf2-/- C57BL/6J mice. Collectively, this research provides the first in vivo evidence that topical application of bixin can protect against UV-induced photodamage and PUVA-induced loss of hair pigmentation through NRF2 activation. Topical NRF2 activation using bixin may represent a novel strategy for human skin photoprotection, potentially complementing conventional sunscreen-based approaches.
Project description:Human skin colour, ie pigmentation, differs widely among individuals, as do their responses to various types of ultraviolet radiation (UV) and their risks of skin cancer. In some individuals, UV-induced pigmentation persists for months to years in a phenomenon termed long-lasting pigmentation (LLP). It is unclear whether LLP is an indicator of potential risk for skin cancer. LLP seems to have similar features to other forms of hyperpigmentation, eg solar lentigines or age spots, which are clinical markers of photodamage and risk factors for precancerous lesions. To investigate what UV-induced molecular changes may persist in individuals with LLP, clinical specimens from non-sunburn-inducing repeated UV exposures (UVA, UVB or UVA + UVB) at 4 months post-exposure (short-term LLP) were evaluated by microarray analysis and dataset mining. Validated targets were further evaluated in clinical specimens from six healthy individuals (three LLP+ and three LLP-) followed for more than 9 months (long-term LLP) who initially received a single sunburn-inducing UVA + UVB exposure. The results support a UV-induced hyperpigmentation model in which basal keratinocytes have an impaired ability to remove melanin that leads to a compensatory mechanism by neighbouring keratinocytes with increased proliferative capacity to maintain skin homeostasis. The attenuated expression of SOX7 and other hemidesmosomal components (integrin ?6?4 and plectin) leads to increased melanosome uptake by keratinocytes and points to a spatial regulation within the epidermis. The reduced density of hemidesmosomes provides supporting evidence for plasticity at the epidermal-dermal junction. Altered hemidesmosome plasticity, and the sustained nature of LLP, may be mediated by the role of SOX7 in basal keratinocytes. The long-term sustained subtle changes detected are modest, but sufficient to create dramatic visual differences in skin colour. These results suggest that the hyperpigmentation phenomenon leading to increased interdigitation develops in order to maintain normal skin homeostasis in individuals with LLP.
Project description:Visible light (400-700 nm) lies outside of the spectral range of what photobiologists define as deleterious radiation and as a result few studies have studied the effects of visible light range of wavelengths on skin. This oversight is important considering that during outdoors activities skin is exposed to the full solar spectrum, including visible light, and to multiple exposures at different times and doses. Although the contribution of the UV component of sunlight to skin damage has been established, few studies have examined the effects of non-UV solar radiation on skin physiology in terms of inflammation, and limited information is available regarding the role of visible light on pigmentation. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of visible light on the pro-pigmentation pathways and melanin formation in skin. Exposure to visible light in ex-vivo and clinical studies demonstrated an induction of pigmentation in skin by visible light. Results showed that a single exposure to visible light induced very little pigmentation whereas multiple exposures with visible light resulted in darker and sustained pigmentation. These findings have potential implications on the management of photo-aggravated pigmentary disorders, the proper use of sunscreens, and the treatment of depigmented lesions.
Project description:The transcription factor Nrf2 determines the ability to adapt and survive under conditions of electrophilic, oxidative, and inflammatory stress by regulating the expression of elaborate networks comprising nearly 500 genes encoding proteins with versatile cytoprotective functions. In mice, disruption of Nrf2 increases susceptibility to carcinogens and accelerates disease pathogenesis. Paradoxically, Nrf2 is upregulated in established human tumors, but whether this upregulation drives carcinogenesis is not known. Here we show that the incidence, multiplicity, and burden of solar-simulated UV radiation-mediated cutaneous tumors that form in SKH-1 hairless mice in which Nrf2 is genetically constitutively activated are lower than those that arise in their wild-type counterparts. Pharmacologic Nrf2 activation by topical biweekly applications of small (40 nmol) quantities of the potent bis(cyano enone) inducer TBE-31 has a similar protective effect against solar-simulated UV radiation in animals receiving long-term treatment with the immunosuppressive agent azathioprine. Genetic or pharmacologic Nrf2 activation lowers the expression of the pro-inflammatory factors IL6 and IL1?, and COX2 after acute exposure of mice to UV radiation. In healthy human subjects, topical applications of extracts delivering the Nrf2 activator sulforaphane reduced the degree of solar-simulated UV radiation-induced skin erythema, a quantifiable surrogate endpoint for cutaneous damage and skin cancer risk. Collectively, these data show that Nrf2 is not a driver for tumorigenesis even upon exposure to a very potent and complete carcinogen and strongly suggest that the frequent activation of Nrf2 in established human tumors is a marker of metabolic adaptation.
Project description:Exposure to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a causative factor in skin photodamage and carcinogenesis, and an urgent need exists for improved molecular photoprotective strategies different from (or synergistic with) photon absorption. Recent studies suggest a photoprotective role of cutaneous gene expression orchestrated by the transcription factor NRF2 (nuclear factor-E2-related factor 2). Here we have explored the molecular mechanism underlying carotenoid-based systemic skin photoprotection in SKH-1 mice and provide genetic evidence that photoprotection achieved by the FDA-approved apocarotenoid and food additive bixin depends on NRF2 activation. Bixin activates NRF2 through the critical Cys-151 sensor residue in KEAP1, orchestrating a broad cytoprotective response in cultured human keratinocytes as revealed by antioxidant gene expression array analysis. Following dose optimization studies for cutaneous NRF2 activation by systemic administration of bixin, feasibility of bixin-based suppression of acute cutaneous photodamage from solar UV exposure was investigated in Nrf2(+/+) versus Nrf2(-/-) SKH-1 mice. Systemic administration of bixin suppressed skin photodamage, attenuating epidermal oxidative DNA damage and inflammatory responses in Nrf2(+/+) but not in Nrf2(-/-) mice, confirming the NRF2-dependence of bixin-based cytoprotection. Taken together, these data demonstrate feasibility of achieving NRF2-dependent cutaneous photoprotection by systemic administration of the apocarotenoid bixin, a natural food additive consumed worldwide.
Project description:A current threat to the marine ecosystem is the high level of solar ultraviolet radiation (UV). Large whales have recently been shown to suffer sun-induced skin damage from continuous UV exposure. Genotoxic consequences of such exposure remain unknown for these long-lived marine species, as does their capacity to counteract UV-induced insults. We show that UV exposure induces mitochondrial DNA damage in the skin of seasonally sympatric fin, sperm, and blue whales and that this damage accumulates with age. However, counteractive molecular mechanisms are markedly different between species. For example, sperm whales, a species that remains for long periods at the sea surface, activate genotoxic stress pathways in response to UV exposure whereas the paler blue whale relies on increased pigmentation as the season progresses. Our study also shows that whales can modulate their responses to fluctuating levels of UV, and that different evolutionary constraints may have shaped their response strategies.
Project description:Dietary phenolics may play a protective role in UV-mediated skin pigmentation through their antioxidant and UV-absorbing actions. In this study, we investigated whether genetic silencing of Nrf2, regulating the transcription of antioxidant genes, affected melanogenesis in primary human epidermal melanocytes (HEMn) and B16F10 melanoma cells subjected to UVA (8J/cm(2)) exposure. Then, we explored the antimelanogenic actions of phenolics; caffeic acid (CA) and ferulic acid (FA) providing partial UVA protection; quercetin (QU) and rutin (RU) providing strong UVA protection and; avobenzone (AV), an efficient UVA filter, in association with modulation of Nrf2-mediated antioxidant defenses in response to UVA insults in B16F10 cells. Upon oxidative insults, Nrf2 silencing promoted melanogenesis in both HEMn and B16F10 cells irradiated with UVA. Stimulation of melanogenesis by UVA correlated with increased ROS and oxidative DNA damage (8-OHdG), GSH depletion as well as a transient downregulation of Nrf2 nuclear translocation and of Nrf2-ARE signaling in B16F10 cells. All test compounds exerted antimelanogenic effects with respect to their abilities to reverse UVA-mediated oxidative damage as well as downregulation of Nrf2 activity and its target antioxidants (GCLC, GST and NQO1) in B16F10 cells. In conclusion, defective Nrf2 may promote melanogenesis under UVA irradiation through oxidative stress mechanisms. Compounds with antioxidant and/or UVA absorption properties could protect against UVA-induced melanogenesis through indirect regulatory effect on Nrf2-ARE pathway.
Project description:Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) identified genetic loci associated with pigmentation, nevi, and skin cancer. We performed a review and meta-analysis of GWAS results, grouping them into four categories: (i) loci associated with pigmentation (hair, eye, and/or skin color), cutaneous UV-response (sun sensitivity and/or freckling), and skin cancer; (ii) loci associated with nevi and melanoma; (iii) loci associated with pigmentation and/or cutaneous UV-response but not skin cancer; and (iv) loci associated distinctly with skin cancer, mostly basal cell carcinoma, but not pigmentation or cutaneous UV-response. These findings suggest at least two pathways for melanoma development (via pigmentation and via nevi), and two pathways for basal cell carcinoma development (via pigmentation and independent of pigmentation). However, further work is necessary to separate the association with skin cancer from the association with pigmentation. As with any GWAS, the identified loci may not include the causal variants and may need confirmation by direct genome sequencing.
Project description:One of the first lines of cutaneous defense against photoaging is a) the synthesis of melanin and b) the initiation of an oxidative stress response to protect skin against the harmful effects of solar radiation. Safe and selective means to stimulate epidermal pigmentation associated with oxidative stress defense are; however, scarce. Activation of the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) on epidermal melanocytes represents a key step in cutaneous pigmentation initiation and, additionally, it regulates cellular defense mechanisms like oxidative stress and DNA-repair. Thus, making the activation of MC1R an attractive strategy for modulating skin pigmentation and oxidative stress. In this context, we designed and synthesized pentapeptides that act as MC1R agonists. These peptides bound, with high potency, to MC1R and activated cAMP synthesis in CHO cells expressing human MC1R. Using one lead pentapeptide, we could show that this activation of MC1R was specific as testing the activation of other G-protein coupled receptors, including the MC-receptor family, was negative. In vitro efficacy on mouse melanoma cells showed similar potency as for the synthetic MC1R agonist alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (NDP-alpha-MSH). Moreover, we could reproduce this activity in human skin tissue culture. The lead pentapeptide was able to induce ex-vivo protein expression of key melanogenesis markers melanocyte inducing transcription factor (MITF), tyrosinase (TYR), and tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TYRP-1). Concerning oxidative stress response, we found that the pentapeptide enhanced the activation of Nrf2 after UVA-irradiation. Our results make this pentapeptide an ideal candidate as a skin pigmentation enhancer that mimics alpha-MSH and may also have anti-photoaging effects on the skin.
Project description:Skin pigmentation is associated with skin damages and skin cancers, and ultraviolet (UV) photography is used as a minimally invasive mean for the assessment of pigmentation. Since UV photography equipment is not usually available in general practice, technologies emphasizing pigmentation in color photo images are desired for daily care. We propose a new method using conditional generative adversarial networks, named UV-photo Net, to generate synthetic UV images from color photo images. Evaluations using color and UV photo image pairs taken by a UV photography system demonstrated that pigment spots were well reproduced in synthetic UV images by UV-photo Net, and some of the reproduced pigment spots were difficult to be recognized in color photo images. In the pigment spot detection analysis, the rate of pigment spot areas in cheek regions for synthetic UV images was highly correlated with the rate for UV photo images (Pearson's correlation coefficient 0.92). We also demonstrated that UV-photo Net was effective for floating up pigment spots for photo images taken by a smartphone camera. UV-photo Net enables an easy assessment of pigmentation from color photo images and will promote self-care of skin damages and early signs of skin cancers for preventive medicine.