On the role of skin in the regulation of local and systemic steroidogenic activities

Academic Article


  • The mammalian skin is a heterogeneous organ/tissue covering our body, showing regional variations and endowed with neuroendocrine activities. The latter is represented by its ability to produce and respond to neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, hormones and neurohormones, of which expression and phenotypic activities can be modified by ultraviolet radiation, chemical and physical factors, as well as by cytokines. The neuroendocrine contribution to the responses of skin to stress is served, in part, by local synthesis of all elements of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis. Skin with subcutis can also be classified as a steroidogenic tissue because it expresses the enzyme, CYP11A1, which initiates steroid synthesis by converting cholesterol to pregnenolone, as in other steroidogenic tissues. Pregnenolone, or steroidal precursors from the circulation, are further transformed in the skin to corticosteroids or sex hormones. Furthermore, in the skin CYP11A1 acts on 7-dehydrocholesterol with production of 7-dehydropregnolone, which can be further metabolized to other Δ7steroids, which after exposure to UVB undergo photochemical transformation to Vitamin D like compounds with a short side chain. Vitamin D and lumisterol, produced in the skin after exposure to UVB, are also metabolized by CYP11A1 to several hydroxyderivatives. Vitamin D hydroxyderivatives generated by action of CYP11A1 are biologically active and are subject to further hydroxylations by CYP27B1, CYP27A1 and CP24A. Establishment of which intermediates are produced in the epidermis in vivo and whether they circulate on the systemic level represent a future research challenge. In summary, skin is a neuroendocrine organ endowed with steroid/secosteroidogenic activities.
  • Published In

  • Steroids  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Slominski AT; Manna PR; Tuckey RC
  • Start Page

  • 72
  • End Page

  • 88
  • Volume

  • 103