The Journal of investigative dermatology

Hyaluronan metabolism in human keratinocytes and atopic dermatitis skin is driven by a balance of hyaluronan synthases 1 and 3.

PMID 24658508


Hyaluronan (HA) is a glycosaminoglycan synthesized directly into the extracellular matrix by three hyaluronan synthases (HAS1, HAS2, and HAS3). HA is abundantly synthesized by keratinocytes but its epidermal functions remain unclear. We used culture models to grow human keratinocytes as autocrine monolayers or as reconstructed human epidermis (RHE) to assess HA synthesis and HAS expression levels during the course of keratinocyte differentiation. In both the models, epidermal differentiation downregulates HAS3 mRNA expression while increasing HAS1 without significant changes in hyaluronidase expression. HA production correlates with HAS1 mRNA expression level during normal differentiation. To investigate the regulation of HAS gene expression during inflammatory conditions linked to perturbed differentiation, lesional and non-lesional skin biopsies of atopic dermatitis (AD) patients were analyzed. HAS3 mRNA expression level increases in AD lesions compared with healthy and non-lesional skin. Simultaneously, HAS1 expression decreases. Heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF) is upregulated in AD epidermis. An AD-like HAS expression pattern is observed in RHE incubated with HB-EGF. These results indicate that HAS1 is the main enzyme responsible for HA production by normal keratinocytes and thus, must be considered as an actor of normal keratinocyte differentiation. In contrast, HAS3 can be induced by HB-EGF and seems mainly involved in AD epidermis.