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A Ravid, E Rubinstein, A Gamady, C Rotem, UA Liberman, and R Koren

In addition to its known effects on keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation, the hormonal form of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) (1,25(OH)(2)D(3)), has been shown to protect keratinocytes from UV- and chemotherapy-induced damage. Epidermal keratinocytes contain both the machinery needed to produce 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) and vitamin D receptors. The activation of the stress-activated protein kinases (SAPKs), such as c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38, is an early cellular response to stress signals and an important determinant of cell fate. This study examines whether modulation of these SAPKs is associated with the effects of 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) on keratinocytes under stress. HaCaT keratinocytes were exposed to heat shock, hyperosmotic concentrations of sorbitol, the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor AG1487, the pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha, and H(2)O(2). These stresses activated both SAPKs. Pretreatment with 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) inhibited the activation of JNK by all stresses and the activation of p38 by heat shock, AG1478 and tumor necrosis factor alpha. Under the same conditions, treatment with 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) protected HaCaT keratinocytes from cytotoxicity induced by exposure to H(2)O(2) and hyperosmotic shock. The effect of 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) was dose-dependent, already apparent at nanomolar concentrations, and time-dependent, maximal after a 24-h pre-incubation. We suggest that inhibition of SAPK activation may account for some of the well-documented protective effects of 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) on epidermal cells during exposure to UV or chemotherapy and may also be related to the anti-inflammatory actions of the hormone in skin.

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O Nilsson, D Chrysis, O Pajulo, A Boman, M Holst, J Rubinstein, E Martin Ritzen, and L Savendahl

Sex steroids are required for a normal pubertal growth spurt and fusion of the human epiphyseal growth plate. However, the localization of sex steroid receptors in the human pubertal growth plate remains controversial. We have investigated the expression of estrogen receptor (ER) alpha, ERbeta and androgen receptor (AR) in biopsies of proximal tibial growth plates obtained during epiphyseal surgery in 16 boys and eight girls. All pubertal stages were represented (Tanner stages 1-5). ERalpha, ERbeta and AR were visualized with immunohistochemistry and the number of receptor-positive cells was counted using an image analysis system. Percent receptor-positive chondrocytes were assessed in the resting, proliferative and hypertrophic zones and evaluated for sex differences and pubertal trends. Both ERalpha- and ERbeta-positive cells were detected at a greater frequency in the resting and proliferative zones than in the hypertrophic zone (64+/-2%, 64+/-2% compared with 38+/-3% for ERalpha, and 63+/-3%, 66+/-3% compared with 53+/-3% for ERbeta), whereas AR was more abundant in the resting (65+/-3%) and hypertrophic zones (58+/-3%) than in the proliferative zone (41+/-3%). No sex difference in the patterns of expression was detected. For ERalpha and AR, the percentage of receptor-positive cells was similar at all Tanner pubertal stages, whereas ERbeta showed a slight decrease in the proliferative zone during pubertal development (P<0.05). In summary, our findings suggest that ERalpha, ERbeta and AR are expressed in the human growth plate throughout pubertal development, with no difference between the sexes.