Low Molecular Weight Hyaluronic Acid Increases the Self-Defense of Skin Epithelium by Induction of -Defensin 2 via Tlr2 and Tlr4

Gariboldi, S.; Palazzo, M.; Zanobbio, L.; Selleri, S.; Sommariva, M.; Sfondrini, L.; Cavicchini, S.; Balsari, A.; Rumio, C.

The Journal of Immunology 181(3): 2103-2110


DOI: 10.4049/jimmunol.181.3.2103
Accession: 068491114

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In sites of inflammation or tissue injury, hyaluronic acid (HA), ubiquitous in the extracellular matrix, is broken down into low m.w. HA (LMW-HA) fragments that have been reported to activate immunocompetent cells. We found that LMW-HA induces activation of keratinocytes, which respond by producing beta-defensin 2. This production is mediated by TLR2 and TLR4 activation and involves a c-Fos-mediated, protein kinase C-dependent signaling pathway. LMW-HA-induced activation of keratinocytes seems not to be accompanied by an inflammatory response, because no production of IL-8, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, or IL-6 was observed. Ex vivo and in vivo treatments of murine skin with LMW-HA showed a release of mouse beta-defensin 2 in all layers of the epidermal compartment. Therefore, the breakdown of extracellular matrix components, for example after injury, stimulates keratinocytes to release beta-defensin 2, which protects cutaneous tissue at a time when it is particularly vulnerable to infection. In addition, our observation might be important to open new perspectives in the development of possible topical products containing LMW-HA to improve the release of beta-defensins by keratinocytes, thus ameliorating the self-defense of the skin for the protection of cutaneous tissue from infection by microorganisms.