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Evidence for Lysosomal Dysfunction within the Epidermis in Psoriasis and Atopic Dermatitis

      Atopic dermatitis and psoriasis are frequent chronic inflammatory skin diseases. Autophagy plays a substantial role in the homeostasis of an organism. Loss or impairment of autophagy is associated with multiple diseases. To investigate the possibility that autophagy plays a role in atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, we investigated the levels of key ATG proteins in human skin specimens as well as in primary human epidermal keratinocytes exposed to inflammatory stimuli in vitro. Although TNF-α facilitated the induction of autophagy in an initial phase, it reduced the levels and enzymatic activities of lysosomal cathepsins in later time periods, resulting in autophagy inhibition. Therefore, TNF-α appears to play a dual role in the regulation of autophagy. The relevance of these in vitro findings was supported by the observation that the protein levels of cathepsins D and L are decreased in both psoriasis and atopic dermatitis skin specimens. Taken together, this study suggests that TNF-α blocks autophagy in keratinocytes after long-term exposure, a mechanism that may contribute to the chronicity of inflammatory diseases of the skin and, perhaps, of other organs.

      Abbreviations:

      AD (atopic dermatitis), BafA1 (bafilomycin A1), KC (keratinocyte), PS (psoriasis)
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