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J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Apr;116(4):571-7.

The role of the epidermal endothelin cascade in the hyperpigmentation mechanism of lentigo senilis.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Tokyo Women's Medical University, Tokyo, Japan.


Little is known about the mechanism(s) underlying hyperpigmentation in lentigo senilis. We have previously reported that keratinocyte-derived endothelins are intrinsic paracrine mitogens and melanogens for human melanocytes and that they play an essential role in stimulating ultraviolet-B-induced melanogenesis. In this study, we have used immunohistochemistry and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis to clarify the role of the endothelin cascade, including endothelin production, processing by endothelin-converting enzyme, and expression of the endothelin B receptor, in the hyperpigmentary mechanism(s) involved in lentigo senilis. The number of tyrosinase immunopositive melanocytes in lentigo senilis lesional skin was increased 2-fold over the perilesional epidermis. Immunohistochemistry using antibodies to endothelin-1 demonstrated relatively stronger staining in the lesional epidermis than in the perilesional epidermis. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis concomitantly demonstrated accentuated expression of transcripts for endothelin-1 and for the endothelin B receptor in lentigo senilis lesional skin, which was accompanied by a similar accentuated expression of tyrosinase mRNA compared with the perilesional control. The endothelin-1-inducible cytokine, tumor necrosis factor alpha, was consistently upregulated in the lentigo senilis lesional epidermis as determined at the transcriptional level and by immunostaining, whereas interleukin-1alpha was downregulated. In contrast, endothelin-converting enzyme 1alpha mRNA was not substantially increased in the lesional epidermis. These findings suggest that an accentuation of the epidermal endothelin cascade, especially with respect to expression of endothelin and the endothelin B receptor, plays an important role in the mechanism involved in the hyperpigmentation of lentigo senilis.

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