Cutaneous glucocorticosteroidogenesis: securing local homeostasis and the skin integrity

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Abstract

Human skin has the ability to synthesize glucocorticoids de novo from cholesterol or from steroid intermediates of systemic origin. By interacting with glucocorticoid receptors, they regulate skin immune functions as well as functions and phenotype of the epidermal, dermal and adnexal compartments. Most of the biochemical (enzyme and transporter activities) and regulatory (neuropeptides mediated activation of cAMP and protein kinase A dependent pathways) principles of steroidogenesis in the skin are similar to those operating in classical steroidogenic organs. However, there are also significant differences determined by the close proximity of synthesis and action (even within the same cells) allowing para-, auto- or intracrine modes of regulation. We also propose that ultraviolet light B (UVB) can regulate the availability of 7-dehydrocholesterol for transformation to cholesterol with its further metabolism to steroids, oxysterols or Δ7 steroids, because of its transformation to vitamin D3. In addition, UVB can rearrange locally produced Δ7 steroids to the corresponding secosteroids with a short- or no-side chain. Thus, different mechanisms of regulation occur in the skin that can be either stochastic or structuralized. We propose that local glucocorticosteroidogenic systems and their regulators, in concert with cognate receptors operate to stabilize skin homeostasis and prevent or attenuate skin pathology.

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