Archives of dermatological research

Topical application of the synthetic triterpenoid RTA 408 activates Nrf2 and induces cytoprotective genes in rat skin.

PMID 24362512


RTA 408 is a member of the synthetic oleanane triterpenoid class of compounds known to potently activate the cytoprotective transcription factor Nrf2. Because skin is constantly exposed to external oxidative stress, such as that from ultraviolet radiation, from chemical exposure, during improper wound healing, and throughout the course of cancer radiation therapy, it may benefit from activation of Nrf2. This study was conducted to evaluate the transdermal penetration properties and Nrf2 activation potential of RTA 408 in normal rat skin. RTA 408 (0.1, 1.0, or 3.0%) was applied topically to the shaved skin of male Sprague-Dawley rats twice daily for 4 days and once on Day 5. Topical application of RTA 408 resulted in transdermal penetration, with low but dose-dependent plasma exposure with AUC(0-24 h) values of 3.6, 26.0, and 41.1 h ng/mL for the 0.1, 1.0, and 3.0% doses, respectively. Further, topical application of RTA 408 resulted in increased translocation of Nrf2 to the nucleus, dose-dependent mRNA induction of Nrf2 target genes (e.g. Nqo1, Srxn1, Gclc, and Gclm), and induction of the protein expression of the prototypical Nrf2 target gene Nqo1 and increased total glutathione (GSH) in normal rat skin. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that increased staining for Nqo1 and total GSH of structures in both the epidermis and dermis was consistent with the full transdermal penetration of RTA 408. Finally, topically administered RTA 408 was well tolerated with no adverse in-life observations and normal skin histology. Thus, the data support the further development of RTA 408 for the potential treatment of skin diseases.