UVB irradiation depletes all-trans-retinol (ROL) and all-trans-retinyl esters (RE) from the hairless mouse epidermis. Prevention of this may be of relevance in counteracting the long-term side effects of UVB exposure. We studied the effects of a topical treatment with natural retinoids before and after UVB exposure on three parameters involved in vitamin A metabolism: the amount of epidermal ROL and RE, the level of functional cellular retinol-binding protein I (CRBP-I), which is likely to protect ROL from UVB, as well as the cytosolic and microsomal enzyme activities which generate ROL and RE, i.e. all-trans-retinaldehyde (RAL) reductase, acylCoA:retinol acyltransferase (ARAT) and retinyl-ester hydrolase (REH). Topical pretreatment with retinoids promoted a dramatic increase of epidermal ROL, RE and CRBP-I levels, a transient increase of RAL reductase and ARAT activities as well as a decreased activity of REH, indicating a direction of epidermal vitamin A metabolism toward storage. In untreated mice UVB irradiation induced a depletion of epidermal ROL and RE in 10 min and a 50% decrease of CRBP-I after 24 h. In mice treated with topical retinoids, and then exposed to UVB, epidermal RE levels were higher than in vehicle-treated, nonirradiated mice. In contrast, ROL was as much depleted after UVB in pretreated as in untreated animals in spite of an induction of CRBP-I, indicating that CRBP-I does not actually protect ROL from UVB-induced depletion in this model. However, the reconstitution of both epidermal ROL and RE, after their depletion induced by UVB, was accelerated by previous topical treatment with RAL. Our results indicate that topical delivery of retinoids partly counteracts UVB-induced vitamin A depletion and promotes recovery.
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Vol. 73 • No. 4