Vitamin D and A derivatives are well-known endogenous substances responsible for skin homeostasis. In this study we topically treated shaved mouse skin with a vitamin D agonist (MC903) or vitamin D antagonist/partial agonist (ZK159222) and compared the changes with acetone (control treatment) treatment for 14 days. Topical treatment with ZK159222 resulted in increased expression of genes involved in retinoic acid synthesis, increased retinoic acid concentrations and increased expression of retinoid target genes. Clustering the altered genes revealed that heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor, the main driver of epidermal hyperproliferation, was increased via RARγ-mediated pathways, while other clusters of genes were mainly decreased which were comparable to the changes seen upon activation of the RARα-mediated pathways. In summary, we conclude that epidermal hyperproliferation of mouse skin in response to a topically administered vitamin D receptor antagonist/partial agonist (ZK159222) is induced via increased retinoic acid synthesis, retinoic acid levels and increased RARγ-mediated pathways.

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