Anandamide regulates keratinocyte differentiation by inducing DNA methylation in a CB1 receptor-dependent manner

Andrea Paradisi, Nicoletta Pasquariello, Daniela Barcaroli, Mauro Maccarrone

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Anandamide (arachidonoylethanolamide, AEA) belongs to an important class of endogenous lipids including amides and esters of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, collectively termed "endocannabinoids." Recently we have shown that AEA inhibits differentiation of human keratinocytes, by binding to type-1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1R). To further characterize the molecular mechanisms responsible for this effect, we investigated the expression of epidermal differentiation-related genes after AEA treatment. We observed that keratin 1 and 10, transglutaminase 5 and involucrin are transcriptionally downregulated by AEA. Most importantly, we found that AEA is able to decrease differentiating gene expression by increasing DNA methylation in human keratinocytes, through a p38, and to a lesser extent p42/44, mitogen-activated protein kinase-dependent pathway triggered by CB1R. An effect of AEA on DNA methylation because of CB1R-mediated increase of methyltransferase activity is described here for the first time, and we believe that the importance of this effect clearly extends beyond the regulation of skin differentiation. In fact, the modulation of DNA methylation by endocannabinoids may affect the expression of a number of genes that regulate many cell functions in response to these substances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6005-6012
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Mar 7 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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