Transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 signaling as a regulator of human sebocyte biology

J Invest Dermatol. 2009 Feb;129(2):329-39. doi: 10.1038/jid.2008.258. Epub 2008 Sep 4.


Transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1), originally described as a central integrator of nociception, is expressed on human epidermal and hair follicle keratinocytes and is involved in regulation of cell growth and death. In human pilosebaceous units, we had shown that TRPV1 stimulation inhibits hair shaft elongation and matrix keratinocyte proliferation, and induces premature hair follicle regression and keratinocyte apoptosis. In the current study, we have explored the role of TRPV1-mediated signaling in sebaceous gland (SG) biology, using a human sebocyte cell culture model (SZ95 sebocytes). Demonstrating that human skin SG in situ and SZ95 sebocytes in vitro express TRPV1, we show that the prototypic TRPV1 agonist, capsaicin, selectively inhibits basal and arachidonic acid-induced lipid synthesis in a dose-, time-, and extracellular calcium-dependent and a TRPV1-specific manner. Low-dose capsaicin stimulates cellular proliferation via TRPV1, whereas higher concentrations inhibit sebocyte growth and induce cell death independent of TRPV1. Moreover, capsaicin suppresses the expression of genes involved in lipid homeostasis and of selected proinflammatory cytokines. Collectively, these findings support the concept that TRPV1 signaling is a significant, previously unreported player in human sebocyte biology and identify TRPV1 as a promising target in the clinical management of inflammatory SG disorders (for example, acne vulgaris).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Arachidonic Acid / pharmacology
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lipids / biosynthesis
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors / genetics
  • Retinoid X Receptor alpha / genetics
  • Retinoid X Receptor beta / genetics
  • Sebaceous Glands / cytology*
  • Sebaceous Glands / metabolism*
  • Sensory System Agents / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • TRPV Cation Channels / genetics
  • TRPV Cation Channels / metabolism*


  • Cytokines
  • Lipids
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptors
  • Retinoid X Receptor alpha
  • Retinoid X Receptor beta
  • Sensory System Agents
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV1 protein, human
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Capsaicin