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Human Skin: An Independent Peripheral Endocrine Organ

  • Städtisches Klinikums Dessau, Medizinische Hochschule Brandenburg Theodor Fontane

Abstract and Figures

The historical picture of the endocrine system as a set of discrete hormone-producing organs has been substituted by organs regarded as organized communities in which the cells emit, receive and coordinate molecular signals from established endocrine organs, other distant sources, their neighbors, and themselves. In this wide sense, the human skin and its tissues are targets as well as producers of hormones. Although the role of hormones in the development of human skin and its capacity to produce and release hormones are well established, little attention has been drawn to the ability of human skin to fulfil the requirements of a classic endocrine organ. Indeed, human skin cells produce insulin-like growth factors and -binding proteins, propiomelanocortin derivatives, catecholamines, steroid hormones and vitamin D from cholesterol, retinoids from diet carotenoids, and eicosanoids from fatty acids. Hormones exert their biological effects on the skin through interaction with high-affinity receptors, such as receptors for peptide hormones, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones and thyroid hormones. In addition, the human skin is able to metabolize hormones and to activate and inactivate them. These steps are overtaken in most cases by different skin cell populations in a coordinated way indicating the endocrine autonomy of the skin. Characteristic examples are the metabolic pathways of the corticotropin-releasing hormone/propiomelanocortin axis, steroidogenesis, vitamin D, and retinoids. Hormones exhibit a wide range of biological activities on the skin, with major effects caused by growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1, neuropeptides, sex steroids, glucocorticoids, retinoids, vitamin D, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ligands, and eicosanoids. At last, human skin produces hormones which are released in the circulation and are important for functions of the entire organism, such as sex hormones, especially in aged individuals, and insulin-like growth factor-binding proteins. Therefore, the human skin fulfils all requirements for being the largest, independent peripheral endocrine organ.
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Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
Human Skin: An Independent Peripheral
Endocrine Organ
Christos C. Zouboulis
Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Benjamin Franklin, The Free University of Berlin,
Berlin, Germany
Prof. Dr. Christos C. Zouboulis
Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Benjamin Franklin
The Free University of Berlin, Fabeckstrasse 60–62
D–14195 Berlin (Germany)
Tel. +49 30 8445 6910, Fax +49 30 8445 6908, E-Mail
Fax +41 61 306 12 34
© 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel
Accessible online at:
Key Words
Endocrinology W Hormone synthesis W Hormone
receptors W Hormone metabolism W Hormone activity
The historical picture of the endocrine system as a set of
discrete hormone-producing organs has been substi-
tuted by organs regarded as organized communities in
which the cells emit, receive and coordinate molecular
signals from established endocrine organs, other distant
sources, their neighbors, and themselves. In this wide
sense, the human skin and its tissues are targets as well
as producers of hormones. Although the role of hor-
mones in the development of human skin and its capaci-
ty to produce and release hormones are well estab-
lished, little attention has been drawn to the ability of
human skin to fulfil the requirements of a classic endo-
crine organ. Indeed, human skin cells produce insulin-
like growth factors and -binding proteins, propiomelano-
cortin derivatives, catecholamines, steroid hormones
and vitamin D from cholesterol, retinoids from diet caro-
tenoids, and eicosanoids from fatty acids. Hormones
exert their biological effects on the skin through interac-
tion with high-affinity receptors, such as receptors for
peptide hormones, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones
and thyroid hormones. In addition, the human skin is
able to metabolize hormones and to activate and inacti-
vate them. These steps are overtaken in most cases by
different skin cell populations in a coordinated way indi-
cating the endocrine autonomy of the skin. Characteristic
examples are the metabolic pathways of the corticotro-
pin-releasing hormone/propiomelanocortin axis, ste-
roidogenesis, vitamin D, and retinoids. Hormones exhib-
it a wide range of biological activities on the skin, with
major effects caused by growth hormone/insulin-like
growth factor-1, neuropeptides, sex steroids, glucocorti-
coids, retinoids, vitamin D, peroxisome proliferator-acti-
vated receptor ligands, and eicosanoids. At last, human
skin produces hormones which are released in the circu-
lation and are important for functions of the entire organ-
ism, such as sex hormones, especially in aged individu-
als, and insulin-like growth factor-binding proteins.
Therefore, the human skin fulfils all requirements for
being the largest, independent peripheral endocrine or-
Copyright © 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel
The human skin is the target for a wide range of chemi-
cal messengers. These include several hormones, which in
the classical sense are defined as substances secreted into
Human Skin as Endocrine Organ
Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
the blood stream by specific ductless glands. Their effects
have long been recognized and in some instances well
characterized. For example, hair follicles and sebaceous
glands are the targets for androgen steroids secreted by the
gonads and the adrenal cortex [1, 2] and melanocytes are
directly influenced by polypeptide hormones of the pitu-
itary [3]. However, the historical picture of the endocrine
system as a set of discrete hormone-producing organs,
most of them under the control of a master gland, the
pituitary, has become extended and modified to the point
of metamorphosis. The skin and other tissues can no lon-
ger be regarded simply as the recipients of signals from
distant transmitters. They must rather be viewed as orga-
nized communities in which the cells emit, receive and
coordinate molecular signals from a seemingly unlimited
number of distant sources in addition to the established
endocrine organs (modern and classic endocrine func-
tions, respectively), their neighbors (paracrine and juxta-
crine function), and themselves (autocrine and intracrine
function) (fig. 1). In the widest sense the human skin and
its tissues are thus the targets as well as the producers of
In addition to the modified determination of the endo-
crine skin functions, the results of current research have
blurred the distinction between hormones secreted into
the blood stream and locally active factors. Epithelial skin
cells share common properties with secretory neurons
exhibiting a complete hypothalamic-pituitary-like axis [4]
and the skin converts the circulating androgen steroids
dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and androstenedione
to testosterone and further to 5·-dihydrotestosterone (5·-
DHT) by the intracellular enzyme 5·-reductase but is also
responsible for large amounts of the circulating testoster-
one and 5·-DHT levels [2, 5]. Finally, the identification
of a number of pharmacologically active peptides in a
range of tissues throughout the body focused attention on
the ubiquity of locally acting hormones.
Although the role of hormones in the development of
human skin tissues and their capacity to produce and
release further hormones are well established [6, 7], little
attention has been drawn to the ability of human skin to
fulfil the requirements of a classic endocrine organ, name-
ly synthesis of hormones from major classes of com-
pounds used by the body for general purposes, binding
and regulation of specific receptors by the derived hor-
mones, organized metabolism, activation, inactivation,
and elimination of the hormones in specialized cells of the
tissue, exertion of biological activity, and release of hor-
mones in the circulation.
Fig. 1.
Modes of hormone action. Classical and modern endocrine
functions: Hormones produced by established endocrine organs or
other distant sources, respectively, reach target tissues through the
circulation. Paracrine function: Hormones act locally on cells other
than those that produce them. Juxtacrine function: Hormones pro-
duced in one cell interact directly with a receptor of an immediate
neighboring cell. Autocrine function: Hormones act on the cell in
which they are produced. Intracrine function: Hormones get acti-
vated in the cell in which they are produced and act on it by binding
to nuclear receptors.
Synthesis of Hormones in Human Skin
All types of small molecules can practically represent
precursors of skin hormones which can be proteins,
including glycoproteins, smaller peptides or peptide de-
rivatives, amino acid analogs or lipids (fig. 2).
Polypeptide hormones are direct translation products
of specific mRNA, such as growth hormone (GH), and
cleavage products of large precursor proteins, such as pro-
piomelanocortin (POMC) derivatives and prolactin. Al-
though there is no evidence that GH or GH-like peptides
are produced in the skin, its downstream peptide, insulin-
like growth factor-I (IGF-I), is synthesized in the skin,
mainly by dermal fibroblasts and melanocytes and also
possibly by keratinocytes of the stratum granulosum [8,
9]. Dermal fibroblasts are also source for IGF-II and IGF-
binding protein (IGFBP)-3 [10, 11].
POMC derivatives, such as adrenocorticotropic hor-
mone (ACTH), melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH)
isotypes and ß-endorphin are produced in several skin cell
types in vivo and in vitro [4, 12–15]. ACTH and ·-MSH
are mainly expressed in epidermal keratinocytes, melano-
cytes, the outer root sheath of the anagen hair follicle,
Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
Fig. 2.
Synthesis of hormones in
human skin. Keratinocytes;
hair follicles; cutaneous nerves;
sebaceous glands; melanocytes;
fibroblasts; endothelial cells.
ACTH = Adrenocorticotropic hor-
mone; ·-MSH = ·-melanocyte stim-
ulating hormone; CRH = cortico-
tropin releasing hormone; Vit. D =
vitamin D; atRA = all-trans retinoic
acid; IGF-I = insulin-like growth
factor I; IGFBP-3 = insulin-like
growth factor binding protein-3.
dermal fibroblasts and microvascular endothelial cells.
ß-Endorphin is mainly produced by the outer root sheath
of the anagen hair follicle and dermal fibroblasts.
The few data existing on prolactin synthesis in human
skin are controversial. While dermal fibroblasts in vitro
have been shown to synthesize prolactin [16], no prolactin
mRNA was detected in human skin in another study
Catecholamines norepinephrine and epinephrine
which are modified amino acids and natural activators of
cAMP pathway, are produced in human keratinocytes but
not in melanocytes [18]. Another type of modified amino
acid, the corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), has
been detected in epidermal and follicular keratinocytes,
melanocytes, endothelial cells, and dermal nerves but not
in sebocytes or fibroblasts [4, 19].
Steroid hormones and vitamin D are derived from cho-
lesterol. The skin, especially the sebaceous glands, is capa-
ble of synthesizing cholesterol – from two-carbon frag-
ments such as acetate [20, 21] which is utilized in cell
membranes, formation of the epidermal barrier, in se-
bum, and as substrate for steroid hormone synthesis [22].
Skin is also source of corticosteroids [23] and the unique
site of vitamin D
(cholecalciferol) production [24, 25].
Retinoids and eicosanoids, such as prostaglandins,
prostacyclins and leukotrienes, are fatty acid derivatives.
In humans, vitamin A (retinol) and natural retinoids are
derived from carotenoids in the diet that are modified by
the body; in the skin, excess retinol is mainly esterified
[26]. Human keratinocytes in vitro are able to produce
low amounts of the intracellularly active metabolite all-
trans retinoic acid (atRA) [27–29]. Eicosanoid synthesis
can also be induced in human keratinocytes by several
proinflammatory signals [30, 31].
Hormone Receptors in Human Skin
Hormones exert their biological effects on the skin
through interaction with high-affinity receptors, which
are, in turn, linked to one or more effector systems within
cells. These effectors involve many different components
of the cellular metabolic machinery, ranging from ion
transport at the cell surface to stimulation of the nuclear
transcriptional apparatus. In general, receptors for the
peptide hormones and neurotransmitters are aligned on
the cell surface, while those for the steroid and thyroid
hormones are found in the cytoplasmic or nuclear com-
Receptors for the Peptide Hormones and
The peptide hormone and neurotransmitter receptors
fall into four major groups; three of them are represented
in human skin. The first includes the so-called serpentine
or ‘seven transmembrane domain’ receptors which con-
tain an amino terminal extracellular domain followed by
seven hydrophobic amino acid segments, each of which is
believed to span the membrane bilayer. The seventh seg-
ment is followed by a hydrophilic carboxyl terminal
Human Skin as Endocrine Organ
Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
domain that resides within the cytoplasmic compartment.
To this group belong the parathyroid hormone (PTH)/
parathyroid hormone-related peptide (PTHrP) receptor
which is expressed in dermal fibroblasts but not in epider-
mal keratinocytes [32, 33], the thyroid-stimulating hor-
mone (TSH) receptor which is present in dermal fibro-
blasts [34], the CRH receptors from which type 1 is
present in epidermal and follicular keratinocytes, melano-
cytes, and dermal fibroblasts, whereas sebocytes express
types 1 and 2 [4, 19], the melanocortin receptors (MCR),
among them MCR1 which presents high affinity for ·-
MSH and ACTH and is expressed in epidermal and follic-
ular keratinocytes, epidermal and follicular melanocytes,
sebocytes, sweat gland cells, endothelial cells, Langerhans
cells, monocytes, macrophages, lymphocytes and dermal
fibroblasts, MCR2 which is specific for ACTH and is
expressed in epidermal melanocytes and adipocytes, and
MCR5 which shows affinity for ·-MSH and ACTH and is
present in sebocytes, sweat gland cells and adipocytes [4,
12, 35, 36], the Ì-opiate receptors which bind with high
affinity ß-endorphin and are expressed in epidermal and
outer root sheat keratinocytes, undifferentiated sebocytes
and cells of the sweat gland secretory portion [4], the
vasoactive intestinal popypeptide (VIP) receptors which
are expressed in epidermal keratinocytes, sebocytes,
sweat gland cells, endothelial cells, mononuclear cells and
dermal nerve fibers [37–39], the neuropeptide Y receptor
which is present in sebocytes [38], and the calcitonin
gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor which is expressed
in sebocytes and Langerhans cells [38, 40].
The second group includes the single-transmembrane
domain receptors that harbor intrinsic tyrosine kinase
activity. This includes the insulin/IGF-I receptor and the
epidermal growth factor receptor which are expressed in
epidermal keratinocytes [8, 41].
The third group, which is functionally similar to the
second group, is characterized by a large extracellular
binding domain followed by a single membrane spanning
segment and a cytoplasmic tail. These receptors do not
possess intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity but appear to
function through interaction with soluble transducer mol-
ecules which do possess such activity. In human skin, they
are represented by the GH receptor which is present in
melanocytes and dermal fibroblasts, epidermal and follic-
ular keratinocytes of the outer root sheath, especially the
basal ones, sebocytes, cells of the eccrine sweat gland
secretory duct, hair matrix cells of the dermal papillae,
endothelial cells, Schwann cells of peripheral nerve fasci-
cles, and adipocytes of the dermis [8, 42, 43].
Steroid Hormone and Thyroid Hormone Receptors
The nuclear receptors differ from the receptors of the
cell membrane in that they are soluble receptors with a
proclivity for employing transcriptional regulation as a
means of promoting their biological effects. Thus, though
some receptors are compartmentalized in the cytoplasm
while others are defined to the nucleus, they all operate
within the nucleus chromatin to initiate the signaling cas-
cade. They associate in the nucleus with DNA sequences
bearing a specific recognition element called ‘hormone
response element’. Hormone response elements have dif-
ferent canonical sequences for each hormone. These re-
ceptors are expressed in human skin and can be grouped
into two major subtypes based on shared structural and
functional properties.
The first group, the steroid receptor family, includes
the glucocorticoid receptor which is mainly expressed in
basal keratinocytes, Langerhans cells and dermal fibro-
blasts [44, 45], the androgen receptor which is present in
epidermal and follicular keratinocytes, sebocytes, sweat
gland cells, dermal papilla cells, dermal fibroblasts, endo-
thelial cells, and genital melanocytes [2, 46–48], and the
progesterone receptor which is expressed in basal epider-
mal keratinocytes only [49]. The glucocorticoid receptor
is down-regulated by its ligands in dermal fibroblasts but
is not affected by aging [50, 51]. Steroid receptors under
basal conditions exist as cytoplasmic, multimeric com-
plexes that include the heat shock proteins hsp 90, hsp 70,
and hsp 56. Association of the steroid ligand with the
receptor results in dissociation of the heat shock proteins.
This, in turn, exposes a nuclear translocation signal pre-
viously buried in the receptor structure and initiates
transport of the receptor to the nucleus.
The second group, the thyroid receptor family, includes
the thyroid hormone receptors (isotypes ·1 and ß1), where-
as the isotype ß1 is present in epidermal keratinocytes, out-
er root sheat cells, cebocytes, dermal papilla cells, and der-
mal fibroblasts [6, 52, 53], the estrogen receptor-ß (but not
the estrogen receptor-·) which is expressed in dermal
papilla cells and dermal fibroblasts, sebocytes, adipocytes,
melanocytes, and keratinocytes of the outer root sheath
[48, 54–56], the retinoic acid receptors (RAR; isotypes ·
and Á) and retinoid X receptors (RXR; isotypes ·, ß, Á)
which are expressed in epidermal keratinocytes of the stra-
tum granulosum, follicular keratinocytes, sebocytes, and
endothelial cells, while only the RXR· isotype is present in
melanocytes, fibroblasts, and inflammatory cells [57–61],
the vitamin D receptor which is present in keratinocytes
of all epidermal layers except those of the stratum cor-
neum, epithelial cells of the epidermal appendages, mela-
Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
nocytes, Langerhans cells, CD11b+ macrophages and
CD3+ T-lymphocytes [62, 63], and the peroxisome pro-
liferator-related receptors (PPAR) which are expressed in
epidermal and follicular keratinocytes, sebocytes, sweat
gland cells, endothelial cells, and adipocytes (isotype Á),
whereas isotypes · and are also expressed in keratino-
cytes and sebocytes [64]. The members of the thyroid
receptor family share a high degree of homology to the
proto-oncogene c-erbA and high affinity for a common
DNA recognition site. With the exception of the estrogen
receptor they do not associate with the heat shock proteins
and they are constitutively bound to chromatin in the
nucleus. The estrogen receptor, though demonstrating an
association with heat shock proteins, is largely confined to
the nuclear compartment. The estrogen receptor binds to
its regulatory element as a homodimer, while the other
receptors prefer binding as heterodimers together with a
RXR molecule. The latter amplifies both the DNA bind-
ing and the functional activity of the receptor.
Activation and Inactivation of Hormones in
Human Skin
In addition to its capacity to produce hormones and
express receptors for binding of distant, paracrine, juxta-
crine, autocrine, and intracrine hormones, the human
skin is able to metabolize hormones in order to activate
and inactivate them. These steps are overtaken in most
cases by different skin cell populations in a coordinated
way indicating the endocrine autonomy of the skin. Char-
acteristic examples for this kind of endocrine skin func-
tion are the metabolic pathways of the CRH/POMC axis,
sex steroids, vitamin D, and retinoids.
The skin is strategically located as a barrier between
the external and internal environments being permanent-
ly exposed to noxious stressors. To effectively deal with
such damaging signals the skin exhibits a highly organized
CRH/POMC system which is analogous to the hypothala-
mus/pituitary/adrenal axis [4]. Activation of this pathway
by stress-sensoring cutaneous signals, mainly proinflam-
matory cytokines, proceeds through the production and
release of CRH from keratinocytes, melanocytes, endo-
thelial cells, and dermal nerves which stimulates skin cell
CRH receptors in paracrine and autocrine manners. CRH
synthesis in melanocytes is up-regulated by ultraviolet
radiation B and down-regulated by dexamethasone [4].
Interestingly, CRH receptors in human sebocytes can be
regulated by several downstream hormones, mainly by
testosterone, estrogens, and GH [19]. CRH enhances the
production and secretion of the POMC peptides ·-MSH,
ACTH, and ß-endorphin, especially in keratinocytes, me-
lanocytes, endothelial cells and cutaneous nerves [12, 13,
15] by a complex multistep process that requires POMC
processing by prohormone convertases [4]. These en-
zymes are expressed in keratinocytes, melanocytes, and
endothelial cells. Production of ·-MSH and ACTH can be
significantly up-regulated by ultraviolet light and interleu-
kin (IL)-1 and down-regulated by tumor growth factor-ß
and dexamethasone. ACTH activates the steroidogenic
acute regulatory protein and thereof the MCR inducing
thereby the production and secretion of cortisol [65], a
powerful natural anti-inflammatory factor that counter-
acts the effect of stress signals and buffers tissue damage.
Human sebocytes and keratinocytes express the ste-
roidogenic acute regulatory protein which is essential for
cholesterol translocation from the outer to the inner mito-
chondrial membrane and thus the initiation of steroido-
genesis [22] (fig. 3). They also express the P450 side chain
cleavage enzyme which catalyses the conversion of choles-
terol into pregnenolone, the cytochrome P450 17-hydrox-
ylase that leads to precursors of cortisol and DHEA, and
the steroidogenic factor-1 which maintains these reac-
tions. DHEA can be further converted into androstene-
dione and the tissue potent androgen testosterone by
sebocytes only, since only sebocytes express 3ß-hydroxy-
steroid dehydrogenase-¢
isomerase [2]. Further activa-
tion of testosterone by its conversion into 5·-DHT is cata-
lyzed by 5·-reductase type 1 which is expressed in almost
all skin cells but especially in sebocytes [66], while fibro-
blasts and dermal papilla cells also express 5·-reductase
type 2 [48]. Sebocytes are also able to regulate the balance
of testosterone and androstenedione bidirectionally by
expressing the 17ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase iso-
types 2 and 3 [2]. Androgen conversion to estrogens in the
skin takes place in dermal fibroblasts which express the
responsible enzyme cytochrome P450 19 (aromatase) and
androgen inactivation to androsterone or 3·-androstane-
diol in epidermal keratinocytes which strongly express the
responsible enzyme 3·-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase [2,
67]. In contrast to this skin-related pathway, conversion
of the adrenal DHEA sulfate which reaches the skin
through the circulation – to DHEA only occurs with the
assistance of monocytes which exhibit steroid sulfatase
activity [68]. Therefore, the skin is a steroidogenic tissue
and different skin cell types overtake distinct duties in the
Human Skin as Endocrine Organ
Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
Fig. 3.
Steroidogenesis in human skin. Left panel: The complete pathway of sex hormone synthesis from cholesterine.
StAR = steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, P450scc = cytochrome P450 side chain cleavage enzyme, 5·-DHT =
5·-dihydrotestosterone, ER = estrogen receptor. Middle panel: Sebocytes (S) but neither keratinocytes (K) nor mela-
nocytes (M) express 3ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-¢
-isomerase (¢5–3ß-HSD), the enzyme converting dehy-
droepiandrosterone and androstenedione to testosterone at the mRNA level (RT-PCR). Right pannel: Sebocytes but
not keratinocytes are able to metabolize
H-dehydroepiandrosterone ([
H-]DHEA) to downstream androgen com-
synthesis of tissue active androgens and their inactivation
leading to androgen and estrogen homeostasis. Adrenal
androgens may only be activated in the skin in pathologic
conditions which require the presence of inflammatory
cells in the skin.
In addition, evaluation of skin layer-specific predni-
carbate biotransformation has shown that epidermal ker-
atinocytes can hydrolyze the double ester prednicarbate at
position 21 to the monoester prednisolone 17-ethylcar-
bonate which nonenzymatically transforms to predniso-
lone 21-ethylcarbonate. This metabolite is enzymatically
cleaved to prednisolone, the main biotransformation cor-
ticosteroid product. Fibroblasts show a distinctively lower
enzyme activity [23]. Prednicarbate, prednisolone 17-
ethylcarbonate and prednisolone 21-ethylcarbonate are
hydrolyzed to a minor extent only. Therefore, epidermal
keratinocytes are likely to be responsible for the conver-
sion of potent corticosteroids to less potent ones in human
skin, while dermal fibroblasts are barely able to metabo-
lize the steroids.
The Vitamin D Pathway
Skin is the unique site of vitamin D
and liver is thought to be the main site of conversion
to 25(OH)D
. Skin is further capable of activating
via 1·-hydroxylation and the resulting
(calcitriol) plays a role in epidermal ho-
meostasis in normal and diseased skin. Human keratino-
cytes have been shown to substantially but slowly convert
[24]. In addition, they were
found to slowly but constantly form calcitriol from a large
reservoir of D
. Interestingly, physiological doses of ul-
traviolet light B radiation at 300 nm induce the conver-
sion of 7-dehydrocholesterol via pre-D
and D
into calci-
triol in the picomolar range in epidermal keratinocytes
[25]. Skin can further degrade vitamin D
: Cytochrome
P450 27 in epidermis completes the set of essential vita-
min D
hydroxylases [24]. Thus, by orchestrating the
entire system of production, activation and inactivation,
skin is an autonomous source of hormonally active calci-
Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
The Retinoid Pathway
Epidermal keratinocytes in vivo regulate the levels of
the intracellularly active all-trans retinoic acid (atRA) by
induction of retinoic acid 4-hydroxylase [69]. atRA inac-
tivation by 4-hydroxylation prevents endogenous and ex-
ogenous atRA accumulation in the epidermis. In contrast
to atRA, retinol, retinaldehyde, 9-cis retinoic acid, and
13-cis retinoic acid are not able to regulate their own
hydroxylation. On the other hand, human keratinocytes
in vitro rapidly take up and initially convert retinol to
retinyl esters and then with time to low amounts of the
intracellularly active metabolite atRA [27–29]. 3,4-Dide-
hydro-retinol can also be detected [27, 70]. However,
ester formation, especially of retinyl oleate (18:1) and
retinyl palmitate (16:0), remains the main root by which
excess retinol is also handled by human keratinocytes in
vitro [27–29, 70]. Retinoid metabolism in human skin is
likely to be a cell-specific event, since sebocytes exhibit a
distinct metabolic pattern compared to epidermal kerati-
nocytes [60].
Biological Activity of Hormones in Human Skin
GH and IGF-I
The effects of the GH/IGF-I axis are addressed to-
wards a homeostatic regulation of cell proliferation and
differentiation. GH activity is mainly mediated by the
IGFs but GH has also direct effects on human skin cells
[6]. GH enhances androgen effects on hair growth and is
likely to be involved in sebaceous gland development. It
stimulates sebocyte differentiation and also augments the
effect of 5·-DHT on sebaceous lipid synthesis [71]. On
the other hand, GH does not affect keratinocyte or sebo-
cyte proliferation but it enhances the proliferation of der-
mal fibroblasts in vitro [8, 71]. IGF molecules circulate
mostly bound to IGFBPs. GH and IGF-I induce increases
in skin IGFBP-3 mRNA abundance [11], with a magni-
tude dependent on the presence of Ca
. IGF-I at physio-
logical levels is essential for hair follicle growth by pre-
venting them from entering the catagen phase [72]. IGF-I
and insulin have been shown to significantly stimulate
sebocyte proliferation but also influence sebocyte differ-
entiation, especially in combination with GH, in vitro
[71, 73]. Insulin may act as an IGF-I surrogate as it exhib-
its marked homology to the IGFs and binds the IGF-I
receptor at high concentrations. IGF-I was also shown to
promote clonal proliferation of cultured keratinocytes [8]
and to upregulate hyaluroran synthesis in dermal fibro-
blasts exhibiting a similar effect to basal fibroblast growth
factors [74]. The IGF-I/IGF-I receptor loop was found to
be critically involved in maintenance of human skin
organ cultures ex vivo [41]; IGF-I locally produced by der-
mal fibroblasts interacted in a paracrine manner with its
receptor, predominantly expressed in basal keratinocytes,
to maintain tissue homeostasis. The GH/IGF-I axis shows
an age-related decreased hormone production concomi-
tant with symptoms similar to those of GH-deficient
adults [75]. At last, GH is able to switch the predominant
CRH receptor-1 mRNA expression to a sole CRH recep-
tor-2 expression in human sebocytes [19] indicating a pos-
sible interaction of the GH/IGF-I axis with the hypothala-
mus/pituitary-like axis in human skin.
POMC peptides are likely to play a major role in the
regulation of skin pigmentary system [3, 76] and of cuta-
neous inflammation [12, 13]. ACTH and ·-MSH exhibit
the most significant melanogenic activity via cAMP-
dependent pathways and tyrosinase activation, which is
enhanced by ultraviolet light [4]. Melanogenesis is a high-
ly regulated process modified by postranslational, transla-
tional, or transcriptional mechanisms. In addition, den-
drite formation and stimulation of melanocyte prolifera-
tion by POMC peptides have been reported. ·-MSH can
also stimulate attachment of melanocytes to laminin and
fibronectin and inhibit tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-·-
stimulated expression of the intracellular adhesion mole-
cule-1. In keratinocytes, ·-MSH stimulates cell prolifera-
tion and down-regulates expression of hsp 70 [77] and
modulates cytokine production with up-regulation of IL-
10 and inhibition of the IL-1-induced production and
secretion of IL-8 [12, 13]. The latter effect was also
detected in sebocytes and fibroblasts, where it may be
mediated by NF-kB and AP-1 [35, 78]. ß-Endorphin was
shown to stimulate cytokeratin 16 expression and down-
regulate Ì-opiate receptor expression in human epidermis
[79]. VIP, in the presence of lethally treated 3T3 fibro-
blast feeder cells and epidermal growth factor, stimulated
proliferation of keratinocytes, whereas substance P and
CGRP were ineffective. VIP stimulated adenylate cyclase
activity in membranes obtained from cultured keratino-
cytes, indicating an involvement of cAMP as second mes-
senger in this reaction [80]. On the other hand, it is likely
that overproduction of ACTH may prolong the anagen
phase of hair cycle [4]. ·-MSH also stimulates synthesis
and activity of collagenase/matrix metalloproteinase-1 in
dermal fibroblasts [81]. TNF-· addition resulted in in-
creased ß-endorphin and ACTH levels [14]. In contrast,
tumor growth factor-ß-stimulated fibroblasts showed no
Human Skin as Endocrine Organ
Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
alteration in ß-endorphin and ·-MSH levels, whereas
ACTH release was significantly enhanced. ·-MSH may
play a crutial role on endothelial cell function by decreas-
ing the adherence and transmigration of inflammatory
cells, a prerequisite for immune and inflammatory reac-
tions [4]. The POMC peptides have strong immunomo-
dulatory potential resulting in an overall immunosuppres-
sive effect with ·-MSH presenting the widest spectrum of
activities [12], such as suppression of the contact hyper-
sensitivity reaction to nickel by systemic or topical appli-
cation [4]. Both ·-MSH and ß-endorphin induced hista-
mine release from human foreskin mast cells in vitro
Sex Steroids
The local formation of sex steroids provides autono-
mous control to human skin which is thus able to adjust
the formation and metabolism of sex steroids according to
local needs [2, 82]. The situation of a high secretion rate of
adrenal precursor sex steroids in men and women is com-
pletely different from the animal models used in the labo-
ratory (except monkeys) where the secretion of sex ste-
roids takes place exclusively in the gonads. In these lower
animal species, no significant amounts of androgens or
estrogens are made outside the testes or ovaries and no sex
steroid is left after castration. Sex steroids in human skin
are activated intracellularly and exert their action on the
cells themselves without release in the extracellular space
and in the general circulation (intracrine function). The
rate of formation of each sex steroid thus depends upon
the level of expression of each of the specific androgen-
and estrogen-synthesizing enzymes in each cell type. Se-
baceous glands and sweat glands account for the vast
majority of androgen metabolism in skin [2, 6].
The biological activity of testosterone on the skin is
effected in large part by its conversion to 5·-DHT by 5·-
reductase [83]. Testosterone and 5·-DHT, being the tis-
sue active androgens, stimulate 5·-reductase mRNA and
5·-reductase activity, and their effects are mediated
through their binding to the androgen receptor. They
stimulate proliferation of target cells, such as sebocytes
and dermal papilla cells [84–87]. In addition, there is evi-
dence that the effect of androgens on human sebocyte pro-
liferation depends on the area of skin from which the
sebaceous glands are obtained; facial sebocytes are mostly
affected [84, 88]. Androgens have also been shown to
stimulate sebocyte differentiation [89] which is aug-
mented by co-incubation with PPARÁ ligands [90]. Der-
mal papilla cells mediate the growth-stimulating signals of
androgens by releasing growth factors that act in a para-
crine fashion on the other cells of the follicle [6, 87].
Excessive amounts of tissue active androgens were shown
to induce apoptosis of dermal papilla cells through the
bcl-2 pathway [91]. In aged skin, lower serum levels of
testosterone and gradual decline in DHEA and DHEA
sulfate are detected, at least in males [75].
Estrogens prolong the growth period of scalp hair by
increasing cell proliferation rates and postponing the
anagen-telogen transition [87]. On the other hand, they
directly suppress an enhanced sebaceous gland function
[4, 89]. Estradiol has also been shown to increase prolifer-
ation of melanocytes but decrease both the melanin con-
tent and the tyrosinase activity [56]. Inhibition of 5·-
reductase and of androgen receptor activity resulted in a
great stimulation of vascular endothelial growth factor
(VEGF) and aromatase expression in dermal papilla cells.
Strong stimulation of VEGF protein and gene expression
was also observed in the presence of 17ß-estradiol [48].
Both testosterone and estradiol are able to regulate CRH
receptor mRNA levels, whereby in an opposite way [19].
Glucocorticoids induce hair growth [92], stimulate se-
bocyte proliferation [73], and induce skin atrophy proba-
bly due to an effect on dermal fibroblasts [23]. The
aggravation of sebaceous gland diseases by glucocorti-
coids may be due to their stimulatory effects on prolifera-
tion and differentiation in the presence of other growth
factors [4]. Glucocorticoids can regulate keratinocyte dif-
ferentiation by repressing the expression of the basal cell
specific keratins K5 and K14 and disease-associated kera-
tins K6, K16, and K17, an effect induced directly,
through interactions of keratin response elements with
glucocorticoids and indirectly, by blocking the AP-1 in-
duction of keratin gene expression [93].
Retinoic acids exhibit earlier and stronger biological
effects on the keratinocytes than retinol, probably due to
their early high cellular accumulation and their less rapid
metabolism [29, 94]. These findings support the assump-
tion that the intensity of retinoid signaling is dependent,
in part, on the quantity of cellular retinoic acid. This
assumption is supported by the tight autoregulatory
mechanism in human keratinocytes offering protection
against excessive accumulation of cellular retinoic acid
[58]. atRA binds to and induces cellular retinoic acid-
binding protein II (CRABP II) as well as binds to and acti-
vates nuclear RARs [95]. Most actions of atRA are now
recognized to be mediated through activation of RARs,
Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
whereas, in epithelial skin cells RAR modulate cell prolif-
eration and RXR rather influence cell differentiation
[60]. Retinoids regulate proliferation and differentiation
of skin epithelial cells towards an homeostatic status [94],
especially inhibit enhanced proliferation and lipogenesis
in human sebocytes but are also able to enhance them
under vitamin A deficient conditions [96, 97].
Vitamin D
Calcitriol, like retinoids, rapidly up-regulates the ma-
jor vitamin D
metabolizing enzyme 24-hydroxylase at
the mRNA level, which is an established indicator for cal-
citriol presence [24]. It enhances the growth-promoting
activity of autocrine epidermal growth factor receptor
ligands in keratinocytes [98] and can also rapidly increase
the activity of 17ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (iso-
type 2), which leads predominantly in conversion of estra-
diol to estrone [99]. This estradiol inactivation increases
with increased calcitriol levels, especially those who ex-
hibit antiproliferative effects on keratinocytes. In addi-
tion, keratinocytes produce abundant PTHrP which is
down-regulated by calcitriol suggesting a physiological
role [100]. The antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory
effects of calcitriol on the skin were shown to be mediated,
at least in part, by a complex tumor growth factor-ß regu-
lation in dermal fibroblasts [101].
Thyroid Hormones
Hypothyroidism causes disturbances of skin quality
and hair character and growth with an increased telogen
rate and diffuse alopecia [6, 7]. Replacement reestablishes
the normal anagen/telogen ratio. L-Triiodothyronine was
shown to stimulate proliferation of outer root sheath kera-
tinocytes and dermal papilla cells [102].
Regulation of the PTH/PTHrP receptor on dermal
fibroblasts increases the membrane-associated protein ki-
nase C activity modulating proliferation of epidermal ker-
atinocytes in a paracrine manner [32].
PPAR Ligands
PPARs are pleiotropic regulators of growth and differ-
entiation of many cell types, including skin cells. PPAR·
seems to contribute to skin barrier function and to regula-
tion of inflammation, PPARÁ is necessary for sebocyte
differentiation, and PPARcan ameliorate inflammatory
responses in the skin [64]. PPARis the predominant sub-
type in human keratinocytes and is highly expressed in
basal and suprabasal cells [103, 104]. Induction of PPAR·
and PPARÁ expression is linked to differentiation, and
accordingly, is confined to suprabasal keratinocytes.
PPARand PPARÁ inhibition resulted in a dramatic
decrease in proliferation and a robust up-regulation of the
expression of involucrin and transglutaminase [104, 105].
Preliminary results have shown expression of PPARand
PPARÁ in the human sebaceous gland [106, 107]. Linole-
ic acid, a natural PPARligand, induces accumulation of
neutral lipids in undifferentiated human sebocytes and
reduces spontaneous IL-8 secretion [108]. Estradiol me-
tabolizes prostaglandin D2 to ¢12-prostaglandin J2, a
natural ligand for PPARÁ [109].
Proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-1ß and TNF-·,
induce cytosolic phospholipase A
expression in keratino-
cytes and are able to increase the extracellular release of
arachidonic acid and stimulate eicosanoid synthesis [31]
(fig. 4). Enhanced keratinocyte prostaglandin synthesis af-
ter ultraviolet light injury is also due to increased phos-
pholipase activity [30]. The major arachidonic acid me-
tabolites after stimulation with interleukin 1ß are prosta-
glandin E
and leukotriene B
), while TNF-· stim-
ulates hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (HETE) production.
IL1· expression has been detected in follicular keratino-
cytes and sebocytes in vivo and in vitro [73, 110–112].
Interestingly, LTB
is a natural ligand for PPAR· [113,
114], soluble 15-HETE, which is a natural ligand for
PPAR-Á [115], is synthesized in human sebaceous glands
[116], and PPARs can regulate lipid and lipoprotein
metabolism, cell proliferation, differentiation and apop-
tosis of various cell types including sebocytes [90]. The
axis IL-1/LTB
/PPAR·/lipid synthesis and inflammation
was confirmed by a current clinical study; treatment of
acne patients with a specific 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor
administered systemically led to a 70% reduction in
inflammatory acne lesions at 3 months, an approximately
65% reduction in total sebum lipids as well as a substan-
tial decrease in proinflammatory lipids [117].
Release of Skin-Produced Hormones in the
There is increasing evidence that human skin produces
hormones which are released in the circulation and are
important for functions of the entire organism. Major
examples include sex steroids where a large proportion of
androgens and estrogens in men and women are synthe-
sized locally in peripheral target tissues from the inactive
Human Skin as Endocrine Organ
Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
Fig. 4.
The cascade of eicosanoid synthesis
in the skin. IL-1ß = Interleukin-1ß; TNF-· =
tumor necrosis factor-·; LTB4 = leucotriene
B4; 15-HETE = 15-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic
acid; PPAR· = peroxisome proliferator-acti-
vated receptor-·; PPARÁ = peroxisome pro-
liferator-activated receptor-Á.
adrenal precursors DHEA and androstenedione. DHEA
and androstenedione are converted to testosterone and
further to 5·-DHT by the intracellular enzyme 5·-reduc-
tase in the periphery, thus making the skin responsible for
large amounts of the circulating testosterone and 5·-DHT
levels. Up to 50% of the total circulating testosterone is
produced in the skin and in other peripheral organs [5].
The best estimate of the intracrine formation of estrogens
in peripheral tissues in women is in the order of 75%
before menopause and close to 100% after menopause,
except for a small contribution from ovarian and/or adre-
nal testosterone and androstenedione [82]. Thus, in post-
menopausal women, almost all active sex steroids are
made in target tissues by an intracrine mechanism.
On the other hand, IGFBP-3 message abundance is
greater in the skin that in the liver and circulating IGFBP-3
concentrations are significantly increased by GH and IGF-
I [11]. GH has a direct function in the regulation of IGFBP-
3 synthesis, and the response of skin IGFBP-3 mRNA lev-
els to both GH and IGF-I suggests that dermal fibroblasts
could be more important than the liver in the regulation of
circulating reservoir IGFBP-3 in certain circumstances.
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... The skin possesses a well defined tripartite structure that, from the uttermost to the deepest layer, is provided by the epidermis, the dermis and the hypoderm. This complex and intricate structural organization is strictly required for the accomplishment of a wide variety of activities including [1,2]: immune and endocrine functions; constitution of an initial barrier against pathogens and other environmental noxae, mechanical injury, chemicals and UV radiations; thermoregulatory functions and water retention activities to limit evaporation. ...
... Indeed, upon stimulation, these cells are known to actively participate in the initiation and regulation of cutaneous inflammatory reactions by synthesizing, releasing and responding to different inflammatory, immunomodulatory and immunosuppressive mediators [3]. Moreover, it is well established that keratinocytes are involved both in the production, activation and inactivation of hormones and in responding to circulating hormones that primarily influence differentiation and proliferation programs [1,3,4]. ...
... The progressive characterization of the skin has clarified that this district fulfils the functional requirements to be considered as an independent peripheral endocrine organ. Indeed, recent evidence indicates that the skin is actively involved in the synthesis and metabolism of several hormones, including sex steroids, vitamin D, calcitriol and insulinlike growth factor (IGF) [1,4]. ...
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The skin exerts several fundamental functions that are the first physical, chemical and immune barriers to the human body. Keratinocytes, the main cell type of the epidermis, provide mechanical defense, support skin integrity and actively endorse cutaneous immune responses. Not surprisingly, considering these crucial activities, alterations in keratinocyte functions are associated with different inflammatory skin diseases. Recent findings indicate that the skin should not only be regarded as a target for hormones but that it should also be considered as an endocrine peripheral organ that is directly involved in the synthesis and metabolism of these chemical messengers. Sex hormones have multiple effects on the skin, attributed to the binding with intracellular receptors expressed by different skin cell populations, including keratinocytes, that activate downstream signaling routes that modulate specific cellular functions and activities. This review is aimed at reorganizing the current knowledge on the role exerted by sex hormones on keratinocyte function in five different inflammatory skin diseases: Hidradenitis suppurativa; Acne vulgaris; Atopic dermatitis; progesterone hypersensitivity; psoriasis. The results of our work aim to provide a deeper insight into common cellular mechanisms and molecular effectors that might constitute putative targets to address for the development of specific therapeutic interventions.
... Testosterone is then further converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a more potent form of androgen, via 5-alpha reductase (30,31). In the hair follicle, DHEA is converted to potent forms of androgen specifically in sebocytes, fibroblasts, and dermal papilla cells (32,33). Additionally, 5-alpha reductase expression is higher in the dermal papilla cells than in epithelial cells (34), suggesting that dermal papilla cells are a major source of DHT in hair follicles. ...
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Androgenetic alopecia (“AGA”) is the most prevalent type of progressive hair loss, causing tremendous psychological and social stress in patients. However, AGA treatment remains limited in scope. The pathogenesis of androgenetic alopecia is not completely understood but is known to involve a hair follicle miniaturization process in which terminal hair is transformed into thinner, softer vellus-like hair. This process is related to the dysregulation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway, which causes premature termination of the anagen growth phase in hair follicles. Historically used for wound healing, platelet rich plasma (“PRP”) has recently been at the forefront of potential AGA treatment. PRP is an autologous preparation of plasma that contains a high number of platelets and their associated growth factors such as EGF, IGF-1, and VEGF. These factors are known to individually play important roles in regulating hair follicle growth. However, the clinical effectiveness of PRP is often difficult to characterize and summarize as there are wide variabilities in the PRP preparation and administration protocols with no consensus on which protocol provides the best results. This study follows the previous review from our group in 2018 by Cervantes et al. to analyze and discuss recent clinical trials using PRP for the treatment of AGA. In contrast to our previous publication, we include recent clinical trials that assessed PRP in combination or in direct comparison with standard of care procedures for AGA such as topical minoxidil and/or oral finasteride. Overall, this study aims to provide an in-depth analysis of PRP in the treatment of AGA based on the evaluation of 17 recent clinical trials published between 2018 and October 2021. By closely examining the methodologies of each clinical trial included in our study, we additionally aim to provide an overall consensus on how PRP can be best utilized for the treatment of AGA.
... Facing the environment, the cutaneous barrier protects the body from external stressors and is essential for cutaneous and overall body homeostasis [1][2][3][4]. Additionally, the skin, together with the hypodermis (subcutaneous fat), is both a source and a target for many hormones and neuromediators [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15], making it an independent and fully functioning peripheral endocrine organ [5,16]. Important mechanisms of the skin in maintaining homeostasis and protecting the whole body include the regulation of oxidative stress mechanisms and circadian rhythm [17]. ...
Full-text available
The skin, being the largest organ in the human body, is exposed to the environment and suffers from both intrinsic and extrinsic aging factors. The skin aging process is characterized by several clinical features such as wrinkling, loss of elasticity, and rough-textured appearance. This complex process is accompanied with phenotypic and functional changes in cutaneous and immune cells, as well as structural and functional disturbances in extracellular matrix components such as collagens and elastin. Because skin health is considered one of the principal factors representing overall “well-being” and the perception of “health” in humans, several anti-aging strategies have recently been developed. Thus, while the fundamental mechanisms regarding skin aging are known, new substances should be considered for introduction into dermatological treatments. Herein, we describe melatonin and its metabolites as potential “aging neutralizers”. Melatonin, an evolutionarily ancient derivative of serotonin with hormonal properties, is the main neuroendocrine secretory product of the pineal gland. It regulates circadian rhythmicity and also exerts anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and anti-tumor capacities. The intention of this review is to summarize changes within skin aging, research advances on the molecular mechanisms leading to these changes, and the impact of the melatoninergic anti-oxidative system controlled by melatonin and its metabolites, targeting the prevention or reversal of skin aging.
... In addition, the cells in sebaceous glands and hair follicles use adrenal circulation precursors to synthesize androgen. [21] Testosterone can be de novo synthesized from cholesterol or circulating dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) by sebocytes in sebaceous glands. [18] Androgens regulate hair growth, [22] enlargement of apocrine glands, and sebum secretion. ...
Hidradenitis suppurativa is a cutaneous chronic inflammatory disease that is estimated to affect about 1% of the population and caused pain, malodorous discharge, disfigurement, and poor quality of life with psychosocial problems. The typical features are recurrent painful nodules, abscesses, and sinus tracts on the axillae, groins, gluteal areas, and anogenital regions since postpuberty. Smoking and obesity are two major triggering factors of hidradenitis suppurativa. Women are prone to have hidradenitis suppurativa than men in Western countries, but the male-to-female ratio is reversed in oriental countries. The disease severity can be affected by menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Furthermore, the phenotypes are different among men and women with hidradenitis suppurativa. Men are prone to have buttock involvement while women are prone to have axillary, groins, and submammary lesions. This review introduces the skin appendages and pathophysiology of hidradenitis suppurativa and then focuses on the sex difference and the effects of sex hormones on hidradenitis suppurativa and current hormone-associated treatments.
... Skin is not only a largest organ in the body, but also an endocrine organ and a target site for other hormones [1][2][3]. Skin has all the elements of a functional hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis [4]. So, it has CRH (corticotropic releasing hormone), POMC (pre-opiomelano cortin) and associated peptides ACTH (adreno corticotropic hormone), α-MSH (α-melanocyte stimulating hormone), β-endorphin [5]. ...
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Progesterone, a female sex hormone not only has a role in reproduction, but also in protecting females in melanoma. A survey of steroid hormones actions steroid hormones actions survey on melanoma cells and literature survey showed that progesterone inhibited mouse and human melanoma cell growth significantly in-vitro. Progesterone not only inhibited cell growth, but also affected adhesion and migration functions (essential for metastasis) in-vitro. This observation correlated with the clinical studies where they had shown showed an increased survival and delayed metastasis in menstruating females in melanoma. Further, progesterone level in menstruating females (1000–1500 ng/dL) compared to post-menopausal females (20–100 ng/dL) also correlated with previous clinical studies. Progesterone action on melanoma cells, as reported by other researchers also supported the findings from this lab. Hence, progesterone could be the steroid hormone protecting menstruating females in melanoma. Moreover, our recent studies showed that progesterone suppressed pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 secretion by the melanoma cells, which decreased melanoma cell growth in-vitro. Hence, progesterone apart from reproductive function may also be involved in protecting menstruating females in melanoma.
... Skin is not only a largest organ in the body, but also an endocrine organ and a target site for other hormones [1][2][3]. Skin has all the elements of a functional hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis [4]. So, it has CRH (corticotropic releasing hormone), POMC (pre-opiomelano cortin) and associated peptides ACTH (adreno corticotropic hormone), α-MSH (α-melanocyte stimulating hormone), β-endorphin [5]. ...
Full-text available
Progesterone, a female sex hormone not only has a role in reproduction, but also in protecting females in melanoma. A survey of steroid hormones actions steroid hormones actions survey on melanoma cells and literature survey showed that progesterone inhibited mouse and human melanoma cell growth significantly in-vitro. Progesterone not only inhibited cell growth, but also affected adhesion and migration functions (essential for metastasis) in-vitro. This observation correlated with the clinical studies where they had shown showed an increased survival and delayed metastasis in menstruating females in melanoma. Further, progesterone level in menstruating females (1000-1500 ng/dL) compared to post-menopausal females (20-100 ng/dL) also correlated with previous clinical studies. Progesterone action on melanoma cells, as reported by other researchers also supported the findings from this lab. Hence, progesterone could be the steroid hormone protecting menstruating females in melanoma. Moreover, our recent studies showed that progesterone suppressed pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-8 secretion by the melanoma cells, which decreased melanoma cell growth in-vitro. Hence, progesterone apart from reproductive function may also be involved in protecting menstruating females in melanoma.
... It provides first-line protection against numerous potential threats in our environment. The skin also helps regulate the temperature of our bodies, is the site of vitamin D synthesis and can produce certain hormones [1]. The skin is an important means of social communication, and the status of skin health can have a significant psychosocial impact individually as well as affect social interactions [2] [3] [4] [5]. ...
... The functions of the skin are crucial for the homeostasis and survival. As the largest organ in the human body, the skin, together with the hypodermis (subcutaneous fat), is both the source and the target for several hormones and neuromediators [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17], making it an independent peripheral endocrine organ [5,18]. The skin has also the capacity of producing the prohormone vitamin D and transforming it to active metabolites [19][20][21][22][23][24][25], which can exert several different effects on the main skin cells (keratinocytes and fibroblasts) [20,[25][26][27][28][29] and immune cells [4,28,30,31] via the activation of the nuclear vitamin D receptor (VDR) [29,[32][33][34][35]. Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in skin homeostasis contributing to its barrier function [20,29,[36][37][38]. ...
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The active metabolites of vitamin D3 (D3) and lumisterol (L3) exert a variety of antiaging and photoprotective effects on the skin. These are achieved through immunomodulation and include anti-inflammatory actions, regulation of keratinocytes proliferation, and differentiation programs to build the epidermal barrier necessary for maintaining skin homeostasis. In addition, they induce antioxidative responses, inhibit DNA damage and induce DNA repair mechanisms to attenuate premature skin aging and cancerogenesis. The mechanism of action would involve interaction with multiple nuclear receptors including VDR, AhR, LXR, reverse agonism on RORα and-γ, and nongenomic actions through 1,25D3-MARRS receptor and interaction with the nongenomic binding site of the VDR. Therefore, active forms of vitamin D3 including its canonical (1,25(OH)2D3) and noncanonical (CYP11A1-intitated) D3 derivatives as well as L3 derivatives are promising agents for the prevention, attenuation, or treatment of premature skin aging. They could be administrated orally and/or topically. Other forms of parenteral application of vitamin D3 precursor should be considered to avoid its predominant metabolism to 25(OH)D3 that is not recognized by CYP11A1 enzyme. The efficacy of topically applied vitamin D3 and L3 derivatives needs further clinical evaluation in future trials.
The skin is an endocrine organ and a major target of hormones such as estrogens, androgens and cortisol. Besides vasomotor symptoms (VMS), skin and hair symptoms often receive less attention than other menopausal symptoms despite having a significant negative effect on quality of life. Skin and mucosal menopausal symptoms include dryness and pruritus, thinning and atrophy, wrinkles and sagging, poor wound healing and reduced vascularity, whereas skin premalignant and malignant lesions and skin aging signs are almost exclusively caused by environmental factors, especially solar radiation. Hair menopausal symptoms include reduced hair growth and density on the scalp (diffuse effluvium due to follicular rarefication and/or androgenetic alopecia of female pattern), altered hair quality and structure, and increased unwanted hair growth on facial areas. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is not indicated for skin and hair symptoms alone due to the risk-benefit balance, but wider potential benefits of HRT (beyond estrogen's effect on VMS, bone, breast, heart and blood vessels) to include skin, hair and mucosal benefits should be discussed with women so that they will be able to make the best possible informed decisions on how to prevent or manage their menopausal symptoms.
Recently, there is incredible progress in the arena of machine learning with generative adversarial network (GAN) methods. These methods tend to synthesize new data from input images that are highly realistic at the output. One of its applications in the image-to-image transformation way is the face aging task. In the face aging process, new face images are synthesized with the help of the input images and desired target images. Face aging can be beneficial in several domains such as in biometric systems for face recognition with age progression, in forensics for helping to find the missing children, in entertainment, and many more. Nowadays, several GANs are available for face aging applications and this paper focuses on the insight comparison among the frequently used image-to-image translation GANs which are CycleGAN (Cycle-Consistent Adversarial Network) and AttentionGAN (Attention-Guided Generative Adversarial Network). The first model (CycleGAN) comprises two generators, two discriminators, and converting an image from one domain to another without the need for paired images dataset. The second is AttentionGAN, which consists of attention masks and content masks multiplied with the generated output in one domain to generate a highly realistic image in another domain. For comparison, these two are trained on two dataset which is CelebA-HQ (CelebFaces Attributes high-quality dataset) and FFHQ (Flickr Faces HQ). Efficacy is evaluated quantitatively with identity preservation, five image quality assessment metrics, and qualitatively with a perceptual study on synthesized images, face aging signs, and robustness. It has been concluded that overall CycleGAN has better performance than AttentionGAN. In the future, a more critical comparison can be performed on the number of GANs for face aging applications.
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Heat shock proteins are versatile tools engaged in several cellular functions. In particular, the stress- inducible 70-kDa heat shock protein (hsp70) not only confers protection on cells but also is involved in the regulation of the production of cellular stress response mediators including cytokines. In addition to cytokines, neurohormones such as α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (αMSH) were recently found to be potent mediators of inflammatory and immune responses. Thus, the current study was performed to investigate the rote of αMSH in the expression of hsp70 in a human keratinocyte cell line (HaCaT). Proliferation and differentiation of HaCaT cells are known to be regulated by changing extracellular Ca2+ concentrations. HaCaT cells induced to differentiate in high Ca2+ medium (1.5 mM) were found to express higher levels of hsp70 protein than cells grown under low Ca2+ conditions. Moreover, differ- entiated HaCaT cells were markedly more resistant to oxidative stress than undifferentiated control cells. αMSH significantly suppressed hsp70 expression in a concentration-dependent manner in differentiated HaCaT cells but had only a minor effect on undifferentiated cells. Upon treatment with αMSH, HaCaT cells grown in high Ca2+ medium were rendered more sensitive to oxidative stress, which significantly decreased their survival rate. These findings indicate that αMSH, which is released by keratinocytes in an autocrine fashion following injurious stimuli such as tumor promoters or ultraviolet light, is able to regulate the cells' cytoprotective protein equipment.
The patterns and amounts of hair growth are, on the one hand, circumscribed by genetic constraints and, on the other hand, affected by a range of inevitable, transitory, or remittable circumstances, such as aging, season, malnutrition or disease. The known physiological mediators of hair growth appear to be entirely hormonal, and the nervous system seems to play no direct role. However, it is difficult to analyze the exact w ays in which hormones act because of the miscellaneous uses to which hair has been put in its evolutionary history.
The first and rate-limiting step in the synthesis of all steroid hormones is the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone by the mitochondrial enzyme, P450scc. Tropic hormones such ACTH and gonadotropins induce steroidogenesis via cAMP by elaborating intracellular cAMP which stimulates P450scc activity in two distinct ways. Chronic stimulation (h to days) occurs through the induction of P450scc gene transcription leading to increased P450scc protein and consequent increased steroidogenic capacity. Acute regulation, over minutes, occurs through the phosphorylation of preexisting StAR and the rapid synthesis of new StAR protein. StAR, the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein, increases the flow of cholesterol into mitochondria, thus regulating substrate availability to whatever amount of P450scc is available. In the absence of StAR, up to 14% of maximal StAR-induced level of steroidogenesis persists as StAR-independent steroidogenesis. Congenital lipoid adrenal hyperplasia, an autosomal recessive disorder in which conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone is severely impaired, results in female genitalia in 46,XY genetic males, variable onset of a severe salt-losing crisis in the first months of life, but normal feminization and cyclical vaginal bleeding in 46,XX females. Lipoid CAH was once thought to be due to P450scc mutations, but in fact homozygous P450scc mutations cannot exist in human beings as they would prohibit placental progesterone production, causing spontaneous abortion of the affected fetus. Lipoid CAH is caused by StAR mutations, which result in tropic hormone-induced intracellular accumulation of cholesterol in the adrenals and gonads. Our two-hit model, which considers the persistence of StAR-independent steroidogenesis and the differences in the fetal and postnatal ages at which the testis, adrenal zona glomerulosa, adrenal zona fasciculata and ovary are stimulated, predicts and explains all of the various clinical manifestations of lipoid CAH.
Neuropeptides/hormones have been shown to regulate the Various functions of many immunocompetent cells. A number of neuropeptides/hormones has been demonstrated to be present in the skin and a close anatomical association between calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-containing nerves and Langerhans cells (LC) has been reported. In addition to the CGRP receptor, receptors for several neuropeptides including pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP) and gastrin releasing peptide (GRP) are found on LC, suggesting these neuropeptides might have some effects on LC. CGRP inhibits alloantigen presentation and stimulation of a specific-antigen responsive T-cell clone by LC. Pre-treatment of LC with CGRP also inhibits the elicitation of delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) in tumor immune mice. Upregulation of B7-2 expression on LC is suppressed by CGRP, which might be, in part, responsible for the inhibitory effect of CGRP in the functional assay. The production of some inflammatory cytokines such as IL-10 by LC-like cell line XS52 is regulated by CGRP and the functional effect of CGRP appears to be at least partially mediated through the autocrine regulation of IL-10. alpha-MSH is another neuropeptide, the effect of which has been well studied in the cutaneous immune system. Pre-treatment of mice with cl-MSH produces inhibitory effects in contact hypersensitivity (CHS). IL-10 has been suggested to be involved in the inhibitory effect of alpha-MSH. The receptors and the functional effects of other proopiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived peptides including beta-endorphin and catecholamines on LC are under investigation.
Interleukin-1α (IL-1α), interleukin-1 β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) are 3 cytokines that play a key rôle in cutaneous homeostasis and in the immunopathogenesis of a number of dermatologic diseases. Most studies have focussed on their production by keratino-cytes and Langerhans cells. To determine whether there are non-epidermal sites of cytokine transcription, biopsy specimens of normal human skin were probed for IL-lα, IL-lβ and TNF-α messenger RNAs using the method of in situ hybridization. The results demonstrate that each cytokine mRNA is present at multiple sites within the skin, including epidermal appendages and adnexal structures (hair follicles, sebaceous glands), the dermal microvasculature, arrectores pilorum smooth muscle, and the dermal connective tissue. These data provide evidence that in vivo there are multiple sites other than the epidermis of constitutive IL-lα, 1L-Iβ, and TNF-α gene transcription in normal human skin.
Despite decades of research, the pathogenesis of inflammatory acne vulgaris is still not fully understood. Histological studies have demonstrated that inflammatoray foci develop around acne lesions before overt spongiosis or rupture of the pilosebaceous follicle wall [1]. The initial cellular infiltrate in early inflammatory lesions of less than 6 h duration is mononuclear [1, 2] and has been shown to comprise predominantly CD4-positive T cells. The primary inflammatory events have been characterized as an increased expression of ICAM-1 and E-selectin on dermal microvascular endothelial cells, CD4-positive T-cell foci perivascularly and periductally associated with CD1-positive Langerhans cells and extensive MHC class II plus ICAM-1 expression on the cells within the infiltrate, endothelial cells and some basal keratinocytes [2]. The immunocytological data are consistent with a classical cutaneous type IV hypersensitivity reaction which may be initiated non-specifically by comedonal interleukin (IL) 1α and perpetuated by a specific CD4-positive T-cell response to persistent lesional antigens [3].
Background Transforming growth factor (TGF) -β has been suggested to be an effective inhibitor for abnormal keratinocyte growth in psoriasis. As a majority of the secreted TGF-β are biologically latent complexes, activation is essential for TGF-β-mediated cellular responses in vitro and in vivo. Objectives Here we report the response of the TGF-β regulation system to 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3[1,25(OH)2D3], an active vitamin D3 analogue Patients/methods We studied two types of fibroblasts derived from normal and psoriatic lesional skin, using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Northern blotting techniques. Results 1,25(OH)2D3 caused a dose-dependent induction of latent and active TGF-β1 proteins in both cell cultures. The increases were significant over 72 h, but not within 48 h after stimulation. The time course of TGF-β1 mRNA expression showed a biphasic response consisting of early (≈1 h) and late phases (≈ 96 h) of induction. Concomitant increases of TGF-β2 and -β3, other mammalian isoforms , were observed in the 1,25(OH)2D3-treated cells, but the kinetics were all different. Co-incubation with metabolic inhibitors, actinomycin D and cycloheximide, revealed that the early induction of TGF-β1 mRNA by 1,25(OH)2D3 is dependent on de novo RNA synthesis, but not on RNA stabilization or protein synthesis. It seems likely to be a transient and negligible response given the absence of TGF-β1 protein production. The late induction of TGF-β1 mRNA was partially blocked by adding isoform-specific antibodies to TGF-β1, -β2 and -β3, indicating TGF-β autoregulation. Despite these marked responses, there were no significant differences in the TGF-β expression between normal and psoriatic fibroblasts. Conclusions These results suggest that antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 on psoriatic lesional skin may be mediated, at least in part, by a complex TGF-β regulation in local dermal fibroblasts.