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J Appl Toxicol. 2007 Jan-Feb;27(1):1-9.

Effects of methyl paraben on skin keratinocytes.

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Fancl Corporation, 12-13 Kamishinano, Yokohama 244-0806, Japan.


Some ingredients of dermatological formulations result in skin irritation and allergy. In particular, preservatives have been reported extensively as a cause of allergic contact dermatitis. The study focused on parabens which have been used extensively as antimicrobial preservatives in foods, drugs and cosmetics. The aim of this study was to clarify the effects of the daily use of methyl paraben (MP) on human skin. The concentrations of MP in the stratum corneum (SC) of the human forearm were measured using the cup method and GC-MS after daily applications of MP containing formulations. The study also investigated the effects of long-term exposure to MP on keratinocytes in vitro. Normal human keratinocytes and the skin equivalents were cultured in the medium containing MP. The following changes were analysed: proliferating ability, apoptotic cells, morphological changes, mRNA and protein expressions. After 1 month of daily applications of MP containing formulations, MP remained unmetabolized and persisted slightly in the SC. MP decreased the proliferating ability of keratinocytes and changed the cell morphology. MP also decreased the expressions of hyaluronan synthase 1 and 2 mRNAs and type IV collagen. In contrast, it increased the expressions of involucrin and HSP27. Furthermore, MP influenced the epidermal differentiation of the skin equivalent. These results suggest that MP exposure through application of dermatological formulations results in MP persistence and accumulation in the SC, and that MP might influence the aging and differentiation of keratinocytes.

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