Medical molecular morphology

Enhanced expression of retinoic acid-metabolizing enzyme CYP26A1 in sunlight-damaged human skin.

PMID 22179182


Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is associated with increased susceptibility to carcinogenesis. CYP26A1, the gene encoding a cytochrome P450 enzyme specifically involved in metabolic inactivation of retinoic acid (RA), the most active vitamin A derivative, has been shown to result in a state of functional VAD of the cell. Recently, we demonstrated that CYP26A1 efficiently promotes cell survival properties and eventually contributes to the carcinogenic process, implying roles as an oncogene. To clarify the possible association between VAD caused by CYP26A1 expression and the development of human epithelial neoplasia, we examined whether enhanced expression of CYP26A1 might be observed in various lesions of human skin. We report here that basal keratinocytes showed only weak positivity of CYP26A1 in sunlight-nonexposed areas, whereas strong positive staining was observed in skin from chronically sunexposed body areas and in epidermis that had the dysplastic changes known as actinic keratosis. However, we found no expression of constitutive CYP26A1 in skin malignancies such as squamous cell carcinomas. Our observation suggests an involvement of enhanced CYP26A1 expression causing a functional VAD state in skin that can potentially lead to neoplastic transformation of keratinocytes in an early phase during skin carcinogenesis.