Please cite this paper as: The role of keratinocyte growth factor in melanogenesis: a possible mechanism for the initiation of solar lentigines. Experimental Dermatology 2010; 19: 865–872.
Abstract: Solar lentigines (SLs) are hyperpigmentary lesions presented on sun-exposed areas of the skin and associated with ageing. The molecular mechanism of SL initiation is not completely understood. Ultraviolet B (UVB) stimulates keratinocytes to produce interlukin-1 alpha (IL-1α), which then induces keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) secretion; therefore, we examined their possible roles in the induction of SLs. We found that KGF increases pigment production in both pigmented epidermal equivalents and human skin explants. In addition, UVB exposure increases KGF expression, and KGF treatment induces tyrosinase (TYR) expression in primary melanocytes. The KGF-induced pigmentary changes were confirmed using pigmented Yucatan swine, and human skins grafted onto immuno-deficient mice. In both model systems, the topical treatment with KGF, alone or in combination with IL-1α, resulted in the in vivo formation of hyperpigmentary lesions with increased pigment deposition and elongated rete ridges, which resemble the histological features of human SLs. Preliminary immunohistochemical analysis of human skins showed a moderate increase in KGF, and a strong induction in KGF receptor (KGFR) in SL lesions. In summary, KGF increases pigment production and deposition in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, we show for the first time the in vivo generation of hyperpigmentary lesions with histological resemblance to human SLs and indicate the involvement of KGF/KGFR in the molecular pathology of human SLs.