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J Invest Dermatol. 1999 Nov;113(5):720-4.

Thalidomide increases human keratinocyte migration and proliferation.

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  • 1Dermatology Clinic, University of Catania, Italy.


Thalidomide is reported to have therapeutic utility in the treatment of pyoderma gangrenosum, Beh├žet's disease, aphthous ulcers, and skin wounds. We investigated the effect of thalidomide on human keratinocyte proliferation and migration, two early and critical events in the re-epithelialization of skin wounds. Thalidomide at concentrations less than 1 microM did not affect keratinocyte viability. Using a thymidine incorporation assay, we found that thalidomide, at therapeutic concentrations, induced more than a 2. 5-fold increase in the proliferative potential of the cells. Keratinocyte migration was assessed by two independent motility assays: a colloidal gold assay and an in vitro scratch assay. At optimal concentrations, thalidomide increased keratinocyte migration on a collagen matrix more than 2-fold in the colloidal gold assay and more than 3-fold in the scratch assay over control. Although pro-migratory, thalidomide did not alter the level of metalloproteinase-9 secreted into culture medium. Thalidomide did, however, induce a 2-4-fold increase in keratinocyte-derived interleukin-8, a pro-migratory cellular autocrine factor. Human keratinocyte migration and proliferation are essential for re-epithelialization of skin wounds. Interleukin-8 increases human keratinocyte migration and proliferation and is chemotactic for keratinocytes. Therefore, thalidomide may modulate keratinocyte proliferation and motility by a chemokine-dependent pathway.

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