Inhibition of inflammatory and proliferative responses of human keratinocytes exposed to the sesquiterpene lactones dehydrocostuslactone and costunolide

Claudia Scarponi, Elena Butturini, Rosanna Sestito, Stefania Madonna, Andrea Cavani, Sofia Mariotto, Cristina Albanesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The imbalance of the intracellular redox state and, in particular, of the glutathione (GSH)/GSH disulfide couple homeostasis, is involved in the pathogenesis of a number of diseases. In many skin diseases, including psoriasis, oxidative stress plays an important role, as demonstrated by the observation that treatments leading to increase of the local levels of oxidant species ameliorate the disease. Recently, dehydrocostuslactone (DCE) and costunolide (CS), two terpenes naturally occurring in many plants, have been found to exert various anti-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic effects on different human cell types. These compounds decrease the level of the intracellular GSH by direct interaction with it, and, therefore, can alter cellular redox state. DCE and CS can trigger S-glutathionylation of various substrates, including the transcription factor STAT3 and JAK1/2 proteins. In the present study, we investigated on the potential role of DCE and CS in regulating inflammatory and proliferative responses of human keratinocytes to cytokines. We demonstrated that DCE and CS decreased intracellular GSH levels in human keratinocytes, as well as inhibited STAT3 and STAT1 phosphorylation and activation triggered by IL-22 or IFN-γ, respectively. Consequently, DCE and CS decreased the IL-22- and IFN-γ-induced expression of inflammatory and regulatory genes in keratinocytes, including CCL2, CXCL10, ICAM-1 and SOCS3. DCE and CS also inhibited proliferation and cell-cycle progression-related gene expression, as well as they promoted cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. In parallel, DCE and CS activated the anti-inflammatory EGFR and ERK1/2 molecules in keratinocytes, and, thus, wound healing in an in vitro injury model. In light of our findings, we can hypothesize that the employment of DCE and CS in psoriasis could efficiently counteract the pro-inflammatory effects of IFN-γ and IL-22 on keratinocytes, revert the apoptosis-resistant phenotype, as well as inhibit hyperproliferation in the psoriatic epidermis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere107904
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 16 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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