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Am J Pathol. 2004 Dec;165(6):2099-109.

Biphasic expression of two paracrine melanogenic cytokines, stem cell factor and endothelin-1, in ultraviolet B-induced human melanogenesis.

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Kao Biological Science Laboratories, Ichikai-machi Haga, Tochigi 321-3497 Japan.


Stem cell factor (SCF) and endothelin-1 (ET-1) have been reported to be up-regulated at the protein and gene levels in human epidermis after ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation and to play central roles in UVB-induced pigmentation. However, little is known about the time sequence of SCF and ET-1 expression in UVB-exposed human epidermis and the coordination of their roles during epidermal pigmentation. To clarify such parameters in UVB-exposed human skin, we measured the expression patterns of SCF and ET-1 (as well as of their corresponding receptors) at the gene level at various times during UVB-induced human pigmentation. When human forearm skin was exposed to UVB radiation at two minimal erythemal doses, the expression of SCF mRNA transcripts was significantly enhanced at 3 days after irradiation with an early decrease and subsequently constant expression of SCF receptor (c-KIT) mRNA transcripts. In contrast, up-regulation of ET-1 and endothelin B receptor (ET(B)R) mRNA expression was synchronized at 5 to 10 days after irradiation in concert with an increased expression of tyrosinase mRNA transcripts and the increase in pigmentation. In parallel the expression of tyrosinase and ET(B)R proteins as well as ET-1 was up-regulated at 7 to 10 days after irradiation, whereas KIT protein decreased at 3 days after irradiation and returned to the nonirradiated control level at 5 days after irradiation. When cultured human melanocytes were treated with human recombinant SCF, ET(B)R protein expression and the binding of (125)I-labeled ET-1 to the ET(B)R were significantly increased, further suggesting the preferential and coordinated role of early expression of SCF in UVB-induced melanogenesis. These findings suggest that SCF/KIT signaling is predominantly involved in the early phase of UVB-induced human pigmentation during which it stimulates the ET-1/ET(B)R linkage that is associated with the later phase of UVB-induced melanogenesis.

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