Corticotropin-releasing hormone: an autocrine hormone that promotes lipogenesis in human sebocytes.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 May 14; 99(10):7148-53.PN
Sebaceous glands may be involved in a pathway conceptually similar to that of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Such a pathway has been described and may occur in human skin and lately in the sebaceous glands because they express neuropeptide receptors. Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is the most proximal element of the HPA axis, and it acts as central coordinator for neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to stress. To further examine the probability of an HPA equivalent pathway, we investigated the expression of CRH, CRH-binding protein (CRH-BP), and CRH receptors (CRH-R) in SZ95 sebocytes in vitro and their regulation by CRH and several other hormones. CRH, CRH-BP, CRH-R1, and CRH-R2 were detectable in SZ95 sebocytes at the mRNA and protein levels: CRH-R1 was the predominant type (CRH-R1/CRH-R2 = 2). CRH was biologically active on human sebocytes: it induced biphasic increase in synthesis of sebaceous lipids with a maximum stimulation at 10(-7) M and up-regulated mRNA levels of 3 beta- hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/Delta(5-4) isomerase, although it did not affect cell viability, cell proliferation, or IL-1 beta-induced IL-8 release. CRH, dehydroepiandrosterone, and 17 beta-estradiol did not modulate CRH-R expression, whereas testosterone at 10(-7) M down-regulated CRH-R1 and CRH-R2 mRNA expression at 6 to 24 h, and growth hormone (GH) switched CRH-R1 mRNA expression to CRH-R2 at 24 h. Based on these findings, CRH may be an autocrine hormone for human sebocytes that exerts homeostatic lipogenic activity, whereas testosterone and growth hormone induce CRH negative feedback. The findings implicate CRH in the clinical development of acne, seborrhea, androgenetic alopecia, skin aging, xerosis, and other skin disorders associated with alterations in lipid formation of sebaceous origin.