Kinetin-Induced Differentiation of Normal Human Keratinocytes Undergoing Aging in Vitro

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Kinetin (N6-furfuryladenine) is a cytokinin growth factor having several anti-aging effects reported for human cells and fruit flies. We have observed that short-term culturing of human keratinocytes in the presence of 40 to 200 μM kinetin results in a significant inhibition of cell growth. Studies were undertaken to analyze the process of differentiation as a reason for growth inhibition. Keratinocytes at different passage levels were treated with fetal calf serum (FCS) and calcium as differentiation-inducing positive controls, with different concentrations of kinetin, and with a combination of kinetin and calcium. The induction and progression of differentiation was monitored by morphological observations and by using several differentiation markers, including keratins (K10 and K14), involucrin, epidermal transglutaminase, and some new keratinocyte-specific antibodies isolated by the phage display method. In young keratinocytes, two days of calcium treatment reduced the K14 level by 78%, and increased the levels of K10 and involucrin by 40% and 29%, respectively. In comparison, 40 μM kinetin had no effect on the K14 level, but increased the K10 level by 28% and that of involucrin by four-fold. The combination of calcium and 40 μM kinetin led to a decrease by 23% in the K14 level, to an increase in the level of K10 by 55%, and to a two-fold rise in the involucrin level. These results suggest that the rate, extent, and quality of differentiation depend on the inducing agent, and that kinetin may be useful in promoting the differentiation of human keratinocytes, especially in the presence of calcium.

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