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      Human Skin: An Independent Peripheral Endocrine Organ

      Hormone Research in Paediatrics

      S. Karger AG

      Hormone activity, Hormone synthesis, Hormone receptors, Hormone metabolism, Endocrinology

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          Abstract

          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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          Most cited references 28

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          The PPARalpha-leukotriene B4 pathway to inflammation control.

          Inflammation is a local immune response to 'foreign' molecules, infection and injury. Leukotriene B4, a potent chemotactic agent that initiates, coordinates, sustains and amplifies the inflammatory response, is shown to be an activating ligand for the transcription factor PPARalpha. Because PPARalpha regulates the oxidative degradation of fatty acids and their derivatives, like this lipid mediator, a feedback mechanism is proposed that controls the duration of an inflammatory response and the clearance of leukotriene B4 in the liver. Thus PPARalpha offers a new route to the development of anti- or pro-inflammatory reagents.
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            Establishment and characterization of an immortalized human sebaceous gland cell line (SZ95).

            Human facial sebaceous gland cells were transfected with a PBR-322-based plasmid containing the coding region for the Simian virus-40 large T antigen. The resulting proliferating cell cultures have been passaged over 50 times to date, have been cloned, and show no signs of senescence after 4&DF;1 2 y in vitro, whereas normal human sebocytes can only be grown for three to six passages. The immortalized transfected cells, termed SZ95, expressed the Simian virus-40 large T antigen and presented an hyper-diploid-aneuploid karyotype with a modal chromosome number of 64.5. The SZ95 cell line exhibited epithelial, polymorphous characteristics with different cell sizes of up to 3.25-fold during proliferation and 6-fold at confluence, showing numerous cytoplasmic lipid droplets. The cells showed large cytoplasm profiles with abundant organelles, including vacuoles and myelin figures which indicated lipid synthesis. Lack of or only few desmosomal areas were observed. SZ95 cells expressed molecules typically associated with human sebocytes, such as keratins 7, 13, and 19, and several proteins of the polymorphous epithelial mucin family. Functional studies revealed synthesis of the sebaceous lipids squalene and wax esters as well as of triglycerides and free fatty acids, even after 25-40 passages; active lipid secretion; population doubling times of 52.4 +/- 1.6 h; reduced growth but maintenance of lipid synthesis under serum-free conditions; and retrieval of cell proliferation after addition of 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone. Retinoids significantly inhibited proliferation of certain SZ95 cell clones in the expected magnitude 13-cis-retinoic acid > all-trans-retinoic acid > > acitretin. Thus SZ95 is an immortalized human sebaceous gland cell line that shows the morphologic, phenotypic and functional characteristics of normal human sebocytes.
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              The Human Sebocyte Culture Model Provides New Insights into Development and Management of Seborrhoea and Acne

              Seborrhoea and acne are exclusively human diseases and sebaceous gland differentiation is species specific. Therefore, fundamental research on human sebaceous cell function and control requires human in vitro models. The human sebocyte culture model, introduced in 1989, has been used in several studies to elucidate sebaceous gland activity and its regulation at the cellular level. Cultured human sebocytes have been shown to preserve important sebocytic characteristics, although they undergo an incomplete terminal differentiation in vitro. In vitro synthesis of free fatty acids without bacterial involvement and marked interleukin 1α expression at the mRNA and protein levels with no further induction by lipopolysaccharides lead to the assumption that human sebocytes may initiate acne lesions by an intrinsic mechanism. Androgens affected sebocyte activity in vitro in a manner dependent on the localization of the sebaceous glands. In vitro stimulation of sebocyte proliferation by androgens could be completely abolished by spironolactone. Cultured sebocytes strongly expressed type 1 5α-reductase and metabolized testosterone to androstenedione, 5α-androstanedione, 5α-dihydrotestosterone, androsterone and 5α-androstanediol, whereas the levels of 5α-reductase activity were probably not feedback regulated. 4,7β-Dimethyl-4-aza-5αcholestan-3-one, a type 1 5α-reductase inhibitor, induced an early, marked down-regulation of 5α-reductase activity in human sebocytes in vitro, while hydrofinasteride, a type 2 inhibitor, required 10 3 -fold higher concentrations to induce similar effects. Stimulation of sebocyte proliferation by insulin, thyroid-stimulating hormone and hydrocortisone indicates that the hormonal control of the sebaceous gland could be a complex mechanism. Retinoids inhibited sebocyte proliferation in a dose-dependent manner and down-regulated lipid synthesis and sebocyte differentiation in vitro. Isotretinoin was the most potent compound. On the other hand, vitamin A was found essential for sebocyte activity and differentiation in vitro and could be partially substituted by synthetic retinoids. The inhibitory effect of isotretinoin on sebocyte proliferation was barely affected by the presence of vitamin A. The low persistent isotretinoin levels or, more likely, the considerably elevated tretinoin concentrations detected in human sebocytes after treatment with isotretinoin in vitro may be responsible for the inhibitory effect of this compound on sebocyte activity.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                HRE
                Horm Res Paediatr
                10.1159/issn.1663-2818
                Hormone Research in Paediatrics
                S. Karger AG
                978-3-8055-7317-7
                978-3-318-00781-7
                1663-2818
                1663-2826
                2000
                2000
                28 September 2001
                : 54
                : 5-6
                : 230-242
                Affiliations
                Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Benjamin Franklin, The Free University of Berlin, Berlin,Germany
                Article
                53265 Horm Res 2000;54:230–242
                10.1159/000053265
                11595811
                © 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, References: 117, Pages: 13
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