2002 Exp Dermatol 2002 Dec ;11 (6):509-17
Department of Dermatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.

Induction of HSP27 nuclear immunoreactivity during stress is modulated by vitamin C

For the investigation of the skin irritancy potential of chemicals in an in vitro model it is necessary to have sensitive endpoints that predict the effects of those compounds on native human skin. Recently, we have identified that 27-kDa heat shock protein (HSP27) can serve as a sensitive marker of skin irritation, as exposure of human skin to sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) both in vitro and in vivo induced relocalization of HSP27 from the cytoplasm to the cell nucleus. The aim of the present study was to determine whether nuclear localization of HSP27 could be used as a parameter for evaluation of potential skin irritants in screening assays in vitro. For this purpose, human skin equivalent consisting of epidermis reconstructed on de-epidermized dermis was exposed to SLS or UV light. Stress-induced nuclear relocalization of HSP27 was observed in excised skin exposed to SLS or UV light and in reconstructed epidermis only when the latter was generated in the absence of vitamin C. The omission of vitamin C results in an impaired barrier function. In the presence of vitamin C, however, the barrier function was comparable with excised skin, suggesting that vitamin C may control the response to stress in the reconstructed epidermis. Besides the presence of vitamin C, the response of skin equivalents may strongly depend on other conditions under which they are generated, because the stress-induced HSP27 relocalization was not detected in the commercially available epidermal kit EpiDerm. The results of the present study show that HSP27 nuclear staining can serve as a sensitive marker for skin irritation or cellular stress in excised skin as well as in certain well-characterized human skin equivalents in vitro.