Cutaneous ATP release plays an important role in both epidermal stratification and chronic pain, but little is known about ATP release mechanisms in keratinocytes that comprise the epidermis. In this study, we analyzed ATP release from cultured human neonatal keratinocytes briefly exposed to air, a process previously demonstrated to trigger ATP release from these cells. We show that exposing keratinocytes to air by removing media for 15 seconds causes a robust, long-lasting ATP release. This air-stimulated ATP release was increased in calcium differentiated cultures which showed a corresponding increase in connexin 43 mRNA, a major component of keratinocyte hemichannels. The known connexin hemichannel inhibitors 1-octanol and carbenoxolone both significantly reduced air-stimulated ATP release, as did two drugs traditionally used as ABC transporter inhibitors (glibenclamide and verapamil). These same 4 inhibitors also prevented an increase in the uptake of a connexin permeable dye induced by air exposure, confirming that connexin hemichannels are open during air-stimulated ATP release. In contrast, activity of the MDR1 ABC transporter was reduced by air exposure and the drugs that inhibited air-stimulated ATP release had differential effects on this transporter. These results indicate that air exposure elicits non-vesicular release of ATP from keratinocytes through connexin hemichannels and that drugs used to target connexin hemichannels and ABC transporters may cross-inhibit. Connexins represent a novel, peripheral target for the treatment of chronic pain and dermatological disease.
Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is a vasodilatory peptide that has been detected at high levels in the skin, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) under a variety of inflammatory and chronic pain conditions, presumably derived from peptidergic C and A? innervation. Herein, CGRP immunolabeling (IL) was detected in epidermal keratinocytes at levels that were especially high and widespread in the skin of humans from locations afflicted with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) and complex region pain syndrome type 1 (CRPS), of monkeys infected with simian immunodeficiency virus, and of rats subjected to L5/L6 spinal nerve ligation, sciatic nerve chronic constriction, and subcutaneous injection of complete Freunds adjuvant. Increased CGRP-IL was also detected in epidermal keratinocytes of transgenic mice with keratin-14 promoter driven overexpression of noggin, an antagonist to BMP-4 signaling. Transcriptome microarray, quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR), and Western blot analyses using laser-captured mouse epidermis from transgenics, monolayer cultures of human and mouse keratinocytes, and multilayer human keratinocyte organotypic cultures, revealed that keratinocytes express predominantly the beta isoform of CGRP. Cutaneous peptidergic innervation has been shown to express predominantly the alpha isoform of CGRP. Keratinocytes also express the cognate CGRP receptor components, Calcitonin receptor-like receptor (CRLR), Receptor activity-modifying protein 1 (RAMP1), CGRP-receptor component protein (RCP) consistent with known observations that CGRP promotes several functional changes in keratinocytes, including proliferation and cytokine production. Our results indicate that keratinocyte-derived CGRP? may modulate epidermal homeostasis through autocrine/paracrine signaling and may contribute to chronic pain under pathological conditions.
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