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Exp Dermatol. 2009 Jun;18(6):567-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0625.2009.00851.x.

Expressions of rod and cone photoreceptor-like proteins in human epidermis.

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  • 1Shiseido Research Center, Fukuura, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Japan.


Previous reports have suggested the existence of photoreceptors for visible radiation at the surface of the human body. Rhodopsin is a well-known photosensitive protein found in the rod cells of the retina and detects light/dark contrast. Cone opsins are also photosensitive receptors in the cone cells of the retina and detect colour. Here, we describe immunochemical studies using anti-rhodopsin and anti-opsin antibodies on human skin. Both mouse retina and human epidermis showed clear immunoreactivity with each antibody. Interestingly, immunoreactivity against longer-wavelength opsin antibody was observed in the basal layer of the epidermis, while immunoreactivity against rhodopsin and shorter-wavelength opsin was observed in the upper layer. PCR analysis confirmed the expression of rhodopsin-like and opsin-like genes in human retina and the skin. These results suggest that a series of proteins, which play a crucial role in visual perception, are expressed in human epidermis.

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