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Fat-synthesizing Enzyme Found to Affect the Health of Skin and Hair

Posted: February 18, 2009

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RA, which comes from vitamin A (retinol) has been used to treat skin disorders, such as acne and psoriasis, and certain cancers, but it is fairly toxic and must be carefully controlled. In mice without DGAT1, the skin was very sensitive to retinol. The loss of DGAT1 also caused alopecia, or hair loss. Both of these effects could be prevented by depriving the mice of a source of retinol in their diet. It turns out that DGAT1 can convert retinol to a relatively inert storage form. Without DGAT1, this ability is lost, and any excess retinol in the skin can be converted to RA.

"Our results show that DGAT1 is an important component for controlling retinoic acid levels in the skin of mice," said Michelle Shih, the lead author on the study. "These findings may have implications for the treatment of human skin or hair disorders."

Maureen A. Kane, Ping Zhou, C.L. Eric Yen, Ryan S. Streeper, Joseph L. Napoli and Robert V. Farese Jr. also contributed to the research. Funding was provided by NIH grants DK-056084 to R.F. and DK36870 to JLN, and by an extramural research facilities grant from the National Center for Research Resources (C06 RR018928), and by the J. David Gladstone Institutes.

Adapted from materials provided by Gladstone Institutes.

ScienceDaily, February 17, 2009