Several transport proteins are constitutively expressed in skin cells, but the putative role of the ABC transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp) in human skin is yet unknown. Therefore, we analysed mRNA and protein expression and localization of P-gp in human skin. Using qRT-PCR, we demonstrated a strong MDR1 mRNA expression in whole skin specimens and dermis, whereas the expression of MDR1 in epidermis, epidermal keratinocytes or dermal fibroblasts was only weak. Immunohistochemistry confirmed mRNA data and revealed a marked expression of P-gp within sweat ducts, vessels, nerve sheaths and muscles of human skin and a moderate expression in basal epidermis. Our findings closely correlate with previous studies in murine skin supporting the role of P-gp in the uptake of compounds from the epidermal compartment and their secretion into the bloodstream and sweat ducts. It may also prevent the uptake of xenobiotics into the skin by functioning as a barrier located in the dermal vasculature.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.