All-trans retinoic acid compromises desmosome expression in human epidermis

J. D. Humphries, E. J. Parry, R. E B Watson, D. R. Garrod, C. E M Griffiths

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    An undesirable side-effect of retinoid treatment is skin fragility. As desmosomes are important in maintaining the cohesion of epidermal keratinocytes, we investigated whether all-trans-retinoic acid (RA) compromises desmosome expression in human epidermis, thereby predisposing skin to fragility. Solutions containing 0.025% RA, 5% sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) as an irritant control, or vehicle alone were applied to three sites on the buttocks of normal volunteers (n = 9). Treated sites were occluded for 4 days, and biopsies taken under local anaesthesia. Cryostat sections were stained with a panel of antibodies to desmosomal proteins and visualized by immunofluorescence microscopy. Stained sections were randomized and assessed for intensity of staining. The epidermal thickness of each treated site was quantified by image analysis. Western blots of epidermal desmocollins were quantified by densitometry. RA and SDS treatments significantly, but equivalently, increased epidermal thickness compared with vehicle. Immunohistochemically, both RA and SDS were shown to reduce epidermal staining for desmoplakin, desmoglein 1, plakophilin 1 and desmocollin 3 equally compared with vehicle-treated skin (P
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)577-584
    Number of pages7
    JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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