Ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation induces skin damage and inflammation. One way to reduce the inflammation is via the use of molecules termed photochemopreventive agents. Sulforaphane (4-methylsulfinylbutyl isothiocyanate, SF), which is found in cruciferous vegetables, is known for its potent physiological properties. This study was designed to evaluate the effect of SF on skin inflammation in vitro and in vivo. In in vitro study using immortalized human keratinocytes (HaCaT), UVB caused marked inflammatory responses [i.e., decrease of HaCaT viability and increase of production of an inflammatory marker interleukin-6 (IL-6)]. SF recovered the cell proliferation and suppressed the IL-6 production. These anti-inflammatory effects of SF were explained by its ability to reduce UVB-induced inflammatory gene expressions [IL-6, IL-1beta and cyclooxgenase-2 (COX-2)]. Because SF seems to have an impact on COX-2 expression, we focused on COX-2 and found that SF reduced UVB-induced COX-2 protein expression. In support of this, PGE(2) released from HaCaT was suppressed by SF. Western blot analysis revealed that SF inhibited p38, ERK and SAPK/JNK activation, indicating that the inhibition of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) by SF would attenuate the expression of inflammatory mediators (e.g., COX-2), thereby reducing inflammatory responses. Moreover, we conducted skin thickening assay using HR-1 hairless mice and found that UVB-induced skin thickness, COX-2 protein expression and hyperplasia were all suppressed by feeding SF to the mice. These results suggest that SF has a potential use as a compound for protection against UVB-induced skin inflammation.
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