Original Article| Volume 103, ISSUE 1, P41-48, July 2021

Intracellular oxidative stress induced by calcium influx initiates the activation of phagocytosis in keratinocytes accumulating at S-phase of the cell cycle after UVB irradiation


      • Phagocytosis in keratinocytes is enhanced by UVB and by oxidative stress.
      • Oxidative stress causes keratinocytes to accumulate in S-phase of the cell cycle.
      • Phagocytosis is enhanced by synchronizing keratinocytes to S-phase.
      • Phagocytosis in S-phase keratinocytes is abolished by a calcium ion chelator.



      Phagocytosis is an essential process that maintains cellular homeostasis. In the epidermis, the phagocytosis of melanosomes into keratinocytes is important to protect their DNA against damage from ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. Furthermore, it is considered that UVB activates the phagocytosis by keratinocytes but the detailed mechanism involved is not fully understood.


      To clarify the mechanism of UVB-enhanced phagocytosis in keratinocytes, we investigated the relationship between the phagocytic ability of keratinocytes and the cell cycle stage of keratinocytes.


      The phagocytic ability of keratinocytes was evaluated using the incorporation of fluorescent beads after exposure to UVB or oxidative stress. S-phase was evaluated by BrdU incorporation and immunostaining of cyclin D1. Intracellular calcium levels of keratinocytes were measured using the probe Fluo-4AM.


      The phagocytosis of fluorescent beads into keratinocytes was enhanced by UVB and also by oxidative stress. We found that keratinocytes exposed to UVB or oxidative stress were at S-phase of the cell cycle. Furthermore, keratinocytes synchronized to S-phase showed a higher phagocytic ability according to the increased intracellular ROS level. The UVB-enhanced phagocytosis and entrance into S-phase of keratinocytes was abolished by ascorbic acid, a typical antioxidant. Keratinocytes synchronized to S-phase and exposed to UVB or oxidative stress had increased levels of intracellular calcium and their enhanced phagocytic abilities were diminished by the calcium ion chelator BAPTA-AM.


      Taken together, intracellular oxidative stress induced by intracellular calcium influx mediates the UVB-enhanced phagocytic ability of keratinocytes accumulating at S-phase of the cell cycle.


      UVB (ultraviolet B), ROS (reactive oxygen species), MSs (melanosomes), PAR-2 (protease-activated receptor-2), BSO (buthionine sulfoximine), H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide), AA-Na (ascorbic acid sodium salt), BAPTA-AM (12-Bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid tetrakis acetoxymethyl ester), H2DCFDA (2′7′‐dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate), GSH (glutathione), IL-1α (interleukin-1α), NHEKs (normal human epidermal keratinocytes), BSA (bovine serum albumin), CDK (cyclin dependent kinase)


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