In order to investigate whether products derived from the oxidation of sebum can be responsible for the induction of inflammatory processes, HaCaT keratinocytes were treated with peroxidated squalene. NF-κB activation, secretion, and expression of IL-6, as well as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) mRNA and protein levels, were measured at the end of the treatment and after 24 and 48 hours of recovery. Squalene peroxidation products were administered in amounts able to elicit significant hyperproliferation and to induce lipoxygenase (LOX) activity. The results showed an early activation of NF-κB followed by an increase in PPARα mRNA and protein levels. Moreover, squalene peroxides induced an initial upregulation of IL-6 production and secretion that was counteracted by PPARα activation, as suggested by the subsequent decrease of NF-κB nuclear translocation and IL-6 levels. Inflammatory processes play an important role in the development of acne vulgaris. In combination with our own previous findings, which indicated an association between LOX stimulation and increased percentage of proinflammatory lipids in acne as well as a correlation between increased cytokine levels in the infundibulum, pilosebaceous duct hyperkeratinization, and augmented sebogenesis, the present data further support the involvement of lipid peroxides, in particular squalene peroxides, in establishing an inflammatory process in acne.
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