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Dan Med Bull. 2010 Oct;57(10):B4179.

Role of tumor necrosis factor-α in the regulation of keratinocyte cell cycle and DNA repair after ultraviolet-B radiation.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, D92, Bispebjerg Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Bispebjerg Bakke 23, DK-2400 Copenhagen NV, Denmark. annesofie79@yahoo.dk


Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is a proinflammatory cytokine produced in the skin in response to ultraviolet B radiation (UVB). TNF-α facilitates UVB-induced apoptosis and probably contributes to removal of damaged cells. Surprisingly, murine TNF-α-knockout models have demonstrated that TNF-α is necessary for the early stages of skin carcinogenesis and development of squamous cell carcinoma. In the present PhD thesis, we examined the effects of TNF-α on DNA repair and cell cycle regulation in UVB-irradiated keratinocytes. In the model of premalignant keratinocytes (HaCaT), TNF-α abolished the UVB-induced G2/M checkpoint and diminished the DNA repair despite induction of apoptosis. TNF-α activated the protein kinase B/Akt and regulation of its downstream targets, mTOR, Bad and FoxO3a. This effect was dependent on atypical protein kinase C species (aPKC) since a specific peptide blocking the activity of the PKCξ and ι/λ abrogated the activation of Akt by TNF-α. The aPKC-Akt axis was likely to be responsible for the TNF-α-induced decrease in DNA repair since blocking of Akt activity restored DNA repair. Since anti-TNF-α approaches are increasingly used in the therapy of autoimmune diseases and one of the safety concerns is the potential enhancement of skin carcinogenesis, we investigated the effect of the chimeric monoclonal anti-TNF-α antibody infliximab on UVB-irradiated HaCaT cells. Cells treated with infliximab had significantly increased levels of DNA damage despite enhanced G2/M checkpoint arrest, increased apoptosis and inhibition of Akt. In conclusion, we identified a possible novel mechanism by which TNF-α promotes UVB-induced skin carcinogenesis. This depends on aPKC-Akt activation and inhibition of DNA repair. TNF-α-treated cells are prone to escape checkpoint control and are possibly more likely to accumulate mutations, which may constitute a relevant mechanism enhancing tumor development. The effect of anti-TNF-α therapy on skin carcinogenesis warrants further investigation as our study indicates that, in contrast to what had been expected, infliximab may impair DNA repair.

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