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Br J Dermatol. 2003 Jan;148(1):30-8.

Adrenomedullin: expression and possible role in human skin and hair growth.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Cologne, Germany.



Adrenomedullin (AM) is a regulatory peptide that is synthesized and secreted by a wide number of cells and tissues. AM is a potent vasodilator, but also exerts other functions, such as regulating cell growth and antimicrobial defence. Two receptors, L1 and calcitonin receptor-like receptor (CRLR), which are able to bind AM, have been cloned and characterized.


To investigate expression of AM protein and its receptors in human skin and during different stages of the human hair cycle and, moreover, because of the suggested antimicrobial function of AM in skin, to investigate AM immunoreactivity (IR) in inflammatory acne lesions compared with healthy pilosebaceous follicles.


We used immunohistochemistry to determine the distribution of AM and its receptors in human skin and during different stages of the human hair cycle. AM IR in inflammatory acne lesions was investigated to evaluate the antimicrobial function of the protein, and hair follicle cultures were performed to examine the role of AM in differentiation and proliferation of hair follicle keratinocytes.


Strong IR for AM and its receptors was present in the suprabasal epidermis, in the melanocytes of the epidermis, and in sweat and sebaceous glands. In the hair follicle, AM protein was strongly expressed in the basal and suprabasal layers of the hair bulb and the proximal outer root sheath (ORS). In the distal ORS, AM expression was increasingly suprabasal, especially in proximity to the bulge region where the basal cell layer was free of IR. IR for the CRLR revealed a similar expression pattern to that seen for AM. In contrast, L1 IR showed a suprabasal pattern of IR throughout the ORS. Similar expression of AM and its receptors was observed in catagen and early anagen follicles. AM expression was not markedly upregulated in acne lesions, suggesting a minor role for this antimicrobial peptide in acne. Despite its well-documented mitogenic effects, particularly in oral and skin keratinocytes, AM had no significant effect on hair follicle growth in vitro.


AM and its receptors are expressed in human hair follicles, and both AM and its receptors are colocalized in the same compartments and cell types of the skin. This finding is consistent with the proposed autocrine/paracrine mechanism in the physiology of AM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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