Seiberg, M., Paine, C., Sharlow, E., Andrade-Gordon, P., Costanzo*, M., Eisinger*, M., Shapiro, S.S. Skin Research Center, Johnson & Johnson CPWW, Skillman, New Jersey. U.S.A. *The R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Spring House, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

The chemical basis of melanogenesis is well documented, but the mechanism of melanosome transfer and the regulation of pigmentation by keratinocyte-melanocyte interactions are not well understood. Therefore we examined the effects of serine protease inhibitors on skin pigmentation and found that the protease-activated receptor 2, expressed on keratinocytes, may regulate pigmentation via keratinocyte-melanocyte interactions. Here we show that modulation of protease-activated receptor 2 activation affects melanosome transfer into keratinocytes, resulting in changes in pigment production and deposition. SLIGRL, the protease-activated receptor 2 activating peptide, enhanced melanosome ingestion by keratinocytes, thus increasing pigment deposition. RWJ-50353, a serine protease inhibitor, led to reduced pigment deposition in melanocytes and depigmentation. Electron microscopy studies illustrated an accumulation of immature melanosomes inside melanocytes and abnormal dendrite dynamics in RWJ-50353-treated epidermal equivalents. RWJ50353 induced a visible and dose-dependent skin lightening effect in the dark-skinned Yucatan swine. Examinations by electron microscopy indicated that the in vivo transfer of melanosomes from melanocytes to keratinocytes was affected. Our data suggest that modulation of keratinocyte-melanocyte interactions via the protease-activated receptor 2 pathway affects melanosome transfer. The use of RWJ-50353 to modulate protease-activated receptor 2 activation could lead to a new class of depigmenting agents.


Inhibition, Keratinocyte-melanocyte interactions, MelanoDerm, Melanosome transfer, Protease-activated receptor 2, RWJ-50353, SLIGRL, Serine protease inhibitor, Skin lightening

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