Progressive decreases in nuclear retinoid receptors during skin squamous carcinogenesis

Xiao Chun Xu, Winona Y.L. Wong, Leonard Goldberg, Susan C. Baer, John E. Wolf, William M. Ramsdell, David S. Alberts, Scott M. Lippman, Reuben Lotan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Retinoids are essential for normal skin growth, differentiation, and apoptosis and are active pharmacologically in the prevention and treatment of skin cancers and other lesions. Retinoid effects are mediated mainly by retinoic acid receptors (RARs) and retinoid X receptors (RXRs), which act as transcription factors to alter gene expression. Using in situ hybridization, we analyzed the expression of RARs and RXRs in normal sun-exposed skin (n = 85), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC; n = 28), and actinic keratosis [AK (a precursor to SCC); n = 38]. The expressions of five receptors (RAR-α and -γ, and RXR-α, -β, and -γ,) were moderate to very strong in normal skin, with higher expressions in spinous and granular layers than in the basal layer. RAR-β expression was weak or absent in normal and lesion samples. All five receptors expressed in the skin were suppressed progressively from normal skin to premalignant skin (AK) to invasive skin SCC. Specific receptor decreases in lesions relative to normal skin ranged from 75% (RXR-β) to 96% (RAR-α in SCC and from 37% (RAR-γ,) to 68% (RXR-β) in AK. The degree of suppression of RXR-α and RAR-γ the two predominant retinoid receptors in skin, was relatively less for RXR-α (58% versus 86%; P = 0.015) and relatively greater for RAR-γ, (37% versus 89%; P = 0.0001) between AK and SCC, suggesting that suppression of RXR-α may be an earlier event and expression of RAR-γ, may be a later event of multistep squamous skin carcinogenesis. Our results indicate that suppressed expression of retinoid receptors occurs early (in AK) and is associated with progression of squamous skin carcinogenesis to SCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4306-4310
Number of pages5
JournalCancer research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Progressive decreases in nuclear retinoid receptors during skin squamous carcinogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this