Expression and Function of Neurotrophins and Their Receptors in Cultured Human Keratinocytes

A. Marconi, M. Terracina, C. Fila, J. Franchi, F. Bonté, G. Romagnoli, R. Maurelli, C. M. Failla, M. Dumas, C. Pincelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whereas nerve growth factor has been extensively studied in human keratinocytes, little is known on the role of other members of the neurotrophin family. We investigated the expression and function of neurotrophins and neurotrophin receptors in cultured human keratinocytes. We demonstrated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction that keratinocytes synthesize neurotrophin-3, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and neurotrophin-4/5. These cells also express tyrosinase kinase A and C, the nerve growth factor and neurotrophin-3 high-affinity receptors, respectively. On the other hand, only the truncated extracellular isoform of tyrosinase kinase B, the high-affinity brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-4/5 receptor, is detected in keratinocytes. Moreover, neurotrophin-3, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and neurotrophin-4/5 proteins are secreted by human keratinocytes at low levels. Keratinocyte stem cells synthesize the highest amounts of nerve growth factor, while they secrete higher levels of nerve growth factor as compared with transit amplifying cells. Neurotrophin-3 stimulates keratinocyte proliferation, where brain-derived neurotrophic factor or neurotrophin-4/5 does not exert any effect on keratinocyte proliferation. Addition of neurotrophin-3 slightly upregulates the secretion of nerve growth factor, whereas nerve growth factor strongly augments neurotrophin-3 release. Ultraviolet B irradiation downregulates nerve growth factor, whereas it augments neurotrophin-3 and neurotrophin-4/5 protein levels. Ultraviolet A irradiation increases the level of neurotrophin-3, whereas it does not exert any effect on the other neurotrophins. Finally, neurotrophins other than nerve growth factor fail to protect human keratinocytes from ultraviolet B-induced apoptosis. This work delineates a functional neurotrophin network, which may contribute to epidermal homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1515-1521
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003


  • Keratinocyte
  • Neurotrophin
  • Tyrosine kinase receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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