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Int J Mol Med. 2012 Apr;29(4):593-600. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2012.886. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Niacin protects against UVB radiation-induced apoptosis in cultured human skin keratinocytes.

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Department of Dermatology, Third People's Hospital of Hangzhou, Hangzhou 310009, PR China.


Niacin and its related derivatives have been shown to have effects on cellular activities. However, the molecular mechanism of its reduced immunosuppressive effects and photoprotective effects remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the molecular mechanism of the photoprotective effect of niacin in ultraviolet (UV)-irradiated human skin keratinocytes (HaCaT cells). We found that niacin effectively suppressed the UV-induced cell death and cell apoptosis of HaCaT cells. Existing data have shown that AKT activation is involved in the cell survival process. Yet, the potential mechanism of niacin in protection against UV-induced skin damage has thus far not fully been eluvidated. We observed that niacin pretreatment enhances UV induced activation of AKT (Ser473 phosphorylation) as well as that of the downstream signal mTOR (S6 and 4E-BP1 phosphorylation). The PI3K/AKT inhibitor, LY294002, and the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, largely neutralized the protective effects of niacin, suggesting that AKT and downstream signaling mTOR/S6 activation are necessary for the niacin-induced protective effects against UV-induced cell death and cell apoptosis. Collectively, our data suggest that niacin may be utilized to prevent UV-induced skin damage and provide a novel mechanism of its photoprotective effects against the UV radiation of sunlight by modulating both AKT and downstream mTOR signaling pathways.

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