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Sci Rep. 2019 Jul 26;9(1):10878. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-47350-x.

The Henna pigment Lawsone activates the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor and impacts skin homeostasis.

Author information

1
Department of Immunology, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Charitéplatz 1, D-10117, Berlin, Germany. lozza@mpiib-berlin.mpg.de.
2
Department of Immunology, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Charitéplatz 1, D-10117, Berlin, Germany. pedro.mouraalves@ludwig.ox.ac.uk.
3
Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. pedro.mouraalves@ludwig.ox.ac.uk.
4
Department of Immunology, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Charitéplatz 1, D-10117, Berlin, Germany.
5
CEDOC, NOVA Medical School, NOVA University of Lisbon, Lisbon, 1169-056, Portugal.
6
Human Genomics Laboratory - University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Craiova, Craiova, Romania.
7
Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut fuer Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), Robert-Rössle-Strasse 10, 13125, Berlin, Germany.
8
Research Center of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Craiova, Craiova, Romania.
9
Microarray Core Facility, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Charitéplatz 1, D-10117, Berlin, Germany.
10
Biochemistry and Protein Purification Core Facility, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology. Charitéplatz 1, D-10117, Berlin, Germany.
11
Laboratory of Immunoregulation and Immunopathology, INEM (Institut Necker-Enfants Malades), CNRS UMR8253, INSERM UMR1151 and Paris Descartes University, Paris, France.
12
Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
13
Department of Immunology, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Charitéplatz 1, D-10117, Berlin, Germany. kaufmann@mpiib-berlin.mpg.de.
14
Hagler Institute for Advanced Study, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA. kaufmann@mpiib-berlin.mpg.de.

Abstract

As a first host barrier, the skin is constantly exposed to environmental insults that perturb its integrity. Tight regulation of skin homeostasis is largely controlled by the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR). Here, we demonstrate that Henna and its major pigment, the naphthoquinone Lawsone activate AhR, both in vitro and in vivo. In human keratinocytes and epidermis equivalents, Lawsone exposure enhances the production of late epidermal proteins, impacts keratinocyte differentiation and proliferation, and regulates skin inflammation. To determine the potential use of Lawsone for therapeutic application, we harnessed human, murine and zebrafish models. In skin regeneration models, Lawsone interferes with physiological tissue regeneration and inhibits wound healing. Conversely, in a human acute dermatitis model, topical application of a Lawsone-containing cream ameliorates skin irritation. Altogether, our study reveals how a widely used natural plant pigment is sensed by the host receptor AhR, and how the physiopathological context determines beneficial and detrimental outcomes.

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