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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1993 Sep;266(3):1636-42.

Retinoic acid metabolites exhibit biological activity in human keratinocytes, mouse melanoma cells and hairless mouse skin in vivo.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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  • J Pharmacol Exp Ther 1994 Feb;268(2):1072.


Topical all-trans retinoic acid (RA) modulates growth and differentiation of skin and is used in the treatment of various dermatological disorders. RA is metabolized to 4-hydroxy RA, 4-oxo RA and 5,6-epoxy RA, which are believed to be markedly less active than RA. 3,4-didehydroretinoic acid (ddRA) is a metabolite of 3,4-didehydroretinol which is present in skin. ddRA is biologically active and acts as a morphogen. We have determined the relative biological activity of ddRA, 4-hydroxy RA, 4-oxo RA and 5,6-epoxy RA as assessed by three retinoid responsive systems relevant to skin. RA, ddRA, 4-hydroxy RA, 4-oxo RA and 5,6-epoxy RA (10-100 nM) reduced epidermal transglutaminase activity in human keratinocytes to similar extents, and inhibited alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone-isobutylmethylxanthine-inducible tyrosinase activity in Cloudman S-91 mouse melanoma cells by 67, 39, 48, 51 and 19%, respectively, at 100 nM. Daily topical application of the retinoids to hairless mouse skin for 4 days resulted in dose-dependent changes in epidermal thickness and global histological score. The relative potencies of RA, ddRA, 4-hydroxy RA, 4-oxo RA and 5,6-epoxy RA, as calculated by parallel line assay, were 1.0, 0.60, 0.34, 0.29 and 0.18, respectively, for epidermal hyperplasia and 1.0, 0.78, 0.23, 0.14 and 0.08, respectively, for global histological score. Interestingly, the compounds exhibited a similar rank order of potency with respect to induction of cellular retinoic acid binding protein-II mRNA.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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