Background: The colocalization of insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) and IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) in the basal/germinative layer of the epidermis suggests a key role in modulating epidermal homeostasis. Objectives: We aimed to clarify both the specific cellular localization and the effect of excess epidermal IGFBP-3 on keratinocyte proliferation. Methods: (i) Total RNA was isolated from fluorescence-activated cell sorted basal human keratinocyte subtypes [keratinocyte stem cells, transit amplifying keratinocytes (TA), postmitotic differentiating keratinocytes (PMD)], and real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis was used to determine the abundance of IGFBP-3 and IGF-IR mRNAs. (ii) An IGFBP-3 transgenic mouse model was then used to assess the effect of excess epidermal IGFBP-3 on keratinocyte proliferation. Excess epidermal IGFBP-3 mRNA and protein was determined by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, respectively. Results: (i) The highest levels of IGFBP-3 mRNA were detected in TA keratinocytes, in contrast to IGF-IR mRNA levels which were highest in PMD keratinocytes. (ii) Elevated human IGFBP-3 mRNA and protein was confirmed in the epidermis of skin derived from transgenic mice. Excess IGFBP-3 reduced the relative percentage of proliferative keratinocytes (Ki67 positive) irrespective of skin location (belly, back and tail). Thus, in the epidermis, IGFBP-3 mRNA is highly expressed by proliferative keratinocytes (TA) and overexpression of IGFBP-3 inhibits keratinocyte proliferation. Conclusions: We conclude that in vivo IGFBP-3 ensures epidermal homeostasis via downregulation of keratinocyte proliferation, and thus modulates the early stages of keratinocyte differentiation.
- Epidermal homeostasis