Synthesis of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and their degradation by matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) are part of the dermal remodeling resulting from chronic exposure of skin to ultraviolet radiation (UVR). We have compared two alternative mechanisms for these responses, namely, a direct mechanism in which UV-B or UV-A is absorbed by fibroblasts and an indirect mechanism in which cytokines, produced in skin in response to UVR, stimulate production of the ECM proteins and MMP. These studies were carried out on human dermal fibroblasts grown in contracted, free-floating 9 day old collagen gels as a dermal equivalent. Synthesis of tropoelastin, collagen, fibrillin, MMP-1, -2, -3 and -9 and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMP)-1 and -2 were measured. Tropoelastin, collagen and fibrillin levels were stable between days 4 and 10, and MMP and TIMP decreased by day 10. Neither UV-B (2.5–50 mJ/cm2) nor UV-A (2–12 J/cm2) altered synthesis of ECM proteins, but UV-A increased MMP-1 and -3 production. Tropoelastin synthesis increased in response to transforming growth factor-β1 (5 ng/mL) treatment. Both interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α (10 ng/mL) decreased fibrillin messenger RNA levels but increased MMP-1, -3 and -9 synthesis markedly. Collagen synthesis was not modulated by UV-B, UV-A or cytokine treatment. These results indicate that certain cytokines may have greater effects on production of ECM proteins and MMP than absorption of UV-B and UV-A by fibroblasts grown in dermal equivalents and suggest that the former pathway may play a role in the dermal remodeling in photoaged skin.
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Vol. 79 • No. 1