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J Invest Dermatol. 2003 Apr;120(4):693-700.

Sphingosine-1-phosphate and its potentially paradoxical effects on critical parameters of cutaneous wound healing.

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Institute of Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Toxicology, Free University of Berlin, Königin-Luise-Str. 2+4, Germany.


The sphingolipid metabolite sphingosine-1-phosphate has emerged as a new bioactive molecule involved in the regulation of cell growth, differentiation, survival, and chemotaxis as well as angiogenesis and embryogenesis. These effects are mediated either via G-protein-coupled receptors or through intracellular actions. The most prominent sources of sphingosine-1-phosphate are human platelets suggesting its potential role in wound healing. In agreement with a positive function on reconstruction of wounded skin, we identified sphingosine-1-phosphate as a potent chemoattractant for keratinocytes as well as an activator of extracellular matrix production by fibroblasts. An unexpected finding is a strong cell growth arrest of keratinocytes after exposure to sphingosine-1-phosphate, as keratinocyte proliferation is critical for re-epithelialization of the wound. Most interestingly, the anti-proliferative effect of sphingosine-1-phosphate is not a result of cytotoxicity or apoptosis as sphingosine-1-phosphate even protects these cells from programmed cell death. Moreover, sphingosine-1-phosphate enhances differentiation of keratinocytes. To investigate further by which signaling pathway cell growth inhibition is mediated expression of the mRNA of all sphingosine-1-phosphate receptors (S1P1-5) was identified. 1 (Edg 1), 2 (Edg 5), 3 (Edg 3), 4 (Edg 6), and 5 (Edg 8) mRNA in keratinocytes was identified. As demonstrated in guanosine 5-[gamma-35S] triphosphate-gammaS binding assays, these G-protein-coupled receptors are functional at nanomolar concentrations. As the anti-proliferative effect of sphingosine-1-phosphate is only partially inhibited in the presence of pertussis toxin, it was investigated if intracellular actions are also involved. Microinjections of sphingosine-1-phosphate in keratinocytes also reduce proliferation suggesting that both sphingosine-1-phosphate receptors as well as intracellular actions mediate sphingosine-1-phosphate- induced cell growth arrest.

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