Send to

Choose Destination
Br J Dermatol. 2003 Apr;148(4):680-8.

Expression of NF-kappaB in epidermis and the relationship between NF-kappaB activation and inhibition of keratinocyte growth.

Author information

Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.



Nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) is a transcription factor involved in a number of signalling pathways in many cell types. NF-kappaB in mice has been implicated as an important regulator of keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation.


To evaluate the role of NF-kappaB in keratinocyte growth in human beings, we examined its expression in keratinocytes both in culture and in situ, and studied the relationship between NF-kappaB activation and the inhibition of keratinocyte proliferation induced by known modulators of keratinocyte growth.


The expression of subunits of the NF-kappaB family was examined in human skin, primary cultured keratinocytes and an immortalized keratinocyte line by immunohistochemistry and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis. NF-kB activation was examined in keratinocytes treated with various modulating agents by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (for DNA-binding activity) and by immunocytochemistry (nuclear translocation). The proliferative capacity of treated keratinocytes was also examined by 3H-thymidine incorporation, cell cycle analysis, and expression of Ki-67, a nuclear marker for cell proliferation. The involvement of NF-kappaB was assessed using sodium salicylate, which inhibits NF-kappaB activation.


The NF-kappaB subunits, p50, p65, RelB, and c-Rel (but not p52), were detected in keratinocytes and in normal epidermis at mRNA and protein levels. The four subunits were expressed in a cytoplasmic (rather than a nuclear) pattern in both basal and suprabasal keratinocytes. Phorbol myristate acetate (PMA), tumour necrosis factor alpha, and interferon gamma each activated NF-kappaB and inhibited keratinocyte proliferation. Lipopolysaccharide and dexamethasone did not activate NF-kappaB and had the least effect on proliferation. Finally, a high concentration of calcium (Ca2+) and retinoic acid each failed to activate NF-kappaB, but were potent inhibitors of keratinocyte proliferation, respectively. PMA-induced cell cycle arrest of keratinocytes was blocked by pretreatment with sodium salicylate.


NF-kappaB is constitutively expressed in a resting state in both human cultured keratinocytes and the epidermis. Activation of NF-kappaB is required for PMA-induced keratinocyte growth arrest.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center