Effect of benzoyl peroxide on antioxidant status, NF-kappaB activity and interleukin-1alpha gene expression in human keratinocytes

Toxicology. 2001 Aug 28;165(2-3):225-34. doi: 10.1016/s0300-483x(01)00430-9.


Benzoyl peroxide (BP) is used as a topical treatment for acne. Besides its anti-bacterial activity, the exact molecular mechanisms underlying its mode of action are not fully understood. In the current study, the effects of BP on cell viability, antioxidant status and, IL-1 and IL-8 gene expression were investigated in HaCaT keratinocytes. Keratinocytes incubated for 24 h with BP exhibited a dose-dependent cytotoxicity at concentrations above 250 microM. Furthermore, in the presence of 300 microM BP about 50% of the cellular vitamin E was depleted within the first 30 min. The intracellular ratio of oxidized to reduced glutathione (GSSG/GSH) was increased significantly starting 6 h after BP treatments indicating that BP reacts rapidly with targets in the cell membrane and more slowly with those in the cytosol. NF-kappaB transactivation was not significantly affected by BP. However, BP treatment of HaCaT keratinocytes resulted in a dose-dependent increase in IL-1alpha gene expression whereas no changes in IL-8 mRNA levels were observed. These results demonstrate that BP induces an inflammatory reaction mediated by oxidative stress by a pathway independent of the redox-sensitive transcription factor NF-kappaB.

MeSH terms

  • Benzoyl Peroxide / adverse effects
  • Benzoyl Peroxide / pharmacokinetics
  • Benzoyl Peroxide / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line
  • Dermatitis, Contact / etiology
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects
  • Dermatologic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Dermatologic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Glutathione Disulfide / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-1 / genetics
  • Interleukin-8 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-8 / genetics
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects*
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • NF-kappa B / physiology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction / drug effects
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Vitamin E / metabolism


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-8
  • NF-kappa B
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Vitamin E
  • Glutathione
  • Glutathione Disulfide
  • Benzoyl Peroxide