Inhibition of retinoic acid-induced skin irritation in calorie-restricted mice
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Mice on a calorie-restricted (CR) diet (total calories restricted to 70% of ad libitum; AL) for periods of time ranging from 3 to 18 months were examined for response to topical treatment with all-trans retinoic acid (RA). Daily application of a 0.1% solution of RA to the shaved skin of UM-HET3 mice on an AL diet produced a severe irritation that was evident by day 4, maximal at day 7–8 and still detectable at day 14. Skin irritation was characterized by redness, dryness, flaking and failure of the hair to grow at the treated site. In CR mice, the same treatment produced little detectable irritation. Animals were sacrificed at the end of the retinoid-treatment period (day 7 or day 14) and skin from these animals was examined histologically. In both AL and CR mice, a similar degree of epidermal hyperplasia was observed. Numerous inflammatory cells (mononuclear cells and granulocytes) were present in the skin of both groups. Occasional S100-positive cells (presumably Langerhans cells) were also observed in the epidermis of skin from both groups. S100-positive cells were also observed in the dermis. When skin from CR and AL mice was incubated in organ culture for 3 days (on day 7 after initiation of RA treatment), similar levels of four different pro-inflammatory cytokines were found in the conditioned medium. Soluble type I collagen levels were also similar. In contrast, the level of matrix metalloproteinase-9 was lower in the conditioned medium of skin from CR mice than in conditioned medium from skin cultures of AL mice. Taken together, these studies suggest that CR may provide a way to mitigate the irritation that normally accompanies RA treatment without compromising the beneficial effects of retinoid use. CR appears to exert a protective effect at the target tissue level rather than by a reduction in pro-inflammatory events, per se.