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J Invest Dermatol. 2002 Jun;118(6):1008-18.

Selective peroxidation and externalization of phosphatidylserine in normal human epidermal keratinocytes during oxidative stress induced by cumene hydroperoxide.

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  • 1Health Effects Laboratory Division, Pathology and Physiology Research Branch, NIOSH, Morgantown, West Virginia 26505, USA.


Reactive oxygen species not only modulate important signal transduction pathways, but also induce DNA damage and cytotoxicity in keratinocytes. Hydrogen peroxide and organic peroxides are particularly important as these chemicals are widely used in dermally applied cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and also represent endogenous metabolic intermediates. Lipid peroxidation is of fundamental interest in the cellular response to peroxides, as lipids are extremely sensitive to oxidation and lipid-based signaling systems have been implicated in a number of cellular processes, including apoptosis. Oxidation of specific phospholipid classes was measured in normal human epidermal keratinocytes exposed to cumene hydroperoxide after metabolic incorporation of the fluorescent oxidation-sensitive fatty acid, cis-parinaric acid, using a fluorescence high-performance liquid chromatography assay. In addition, lipid oxidation was correlated with changes in membrane phospholipid asymmetry and other markers of apoptosis. Although cumene hydroperoxide produced significant oxidation of cis-parinaric acid in all phospholipid classes, one phospholipid, phosphatidylserine, appeared to be preferentially oxidized above all other species. Using fluorescamine derivatization and annexin V binding it was observed that specific oxidation of phosphatidylserine was accompanied by phosphatidylserine translocation from the inner to the outer plasma membrane surface where it may serve as a recognition signal for interaction with phagocytic macrophages. These effects occurred much earlier than any detectable changes in other apoptotic markers such as caspase-3 activation, DNA fragmentation, or changes in nuclear morphology. Thus, normal human epidermal keratinocytes undergo profound lipid oxidation with preference for phosphatidylserine followed by phosphatidylserine externalization upon exposure to cumene hydroperoxide. It is therefore likely that normal human epidermal keratinocytes exposed to similar oxidative stress in vivo would under go phosphatidylserine oxidation/translocation. This would make them targets for macrophage recognition and phagocytosis, and thus limit their potential to invoke inflammation or give rise to neoplastic transformations.

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