Naringenin targets ERK2 and suppresses UVB-induced photoaging

Sung Keun Jung, Su Jeong Ha, Chang Hwa Jung, Yun Tai Kim, Hoo Keun Lee, Myoung Ok Kim, Mee Hyun Lee, Madhusoodanan Mottamal, Ann M. Bode, Ki Won Lee, Zigang Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A number of natural phytochemicals have anti-photoaging properties that appear to be mediated through the inhibition of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) expression, but their direct target molecule(s) and mechanism(s) remain unclear. We investigated the effect of naringenin, a major flavonoid found in citrus, on UVB-induced MMP-1 expression and identified its direct target. The HaCaT human skin keratinocyte cell line and 3-dimensional (3-D) human skin equivalent cultures were treated or not treated with naringenin for 1 hr before exposure to UVB. The mechanism and target(s) of naringenin were analysed by kinase assay and multiplex molecular assays. Dorsal skins of hairless mice were exposed to UVB 3 times per week, with a dose of irradiation that was increased weekly by 1 minimal erythema dose (MED; 45 mJ/cm2) to 4 MED over 15 weeks. Wrinkle formation, water loss and water content were then assessed. Naringenin suppressed UVB-induced MMP-1 expression and AP-1 activity, and strongly suppressed UVB-induced phosphorylation of Fos-related antigen (FRA)-1 at Ser265. Importantly, UVB irradiation-induced FRA1 protein stability was reduced by treatment with naringenin, as well as with a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK) inhibitor. Naringenin significantly suppressed UVB-induced extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2) activity and subsequently attenuated UVB-induced phosphorylation of p90RSK by competitively binding with ATP. Constitutively active MEK (CA-MEK) increased FRA1 phosphorylation and expression and also induced MMP-1 expression, whereas dominant-negative ERK2 (DN-ERK2) had opposite effects. U0126, a MEK inhibitor, also decreased FRA1 phosphorylation and expression as well as MMP-1 expression. The photoaging data obtained from mice clearly demonstrated that naringenin significantly inhibited UVB-induced wrinkle formation, trans-epidermal water loss and MMP-13 expression. Naringenin exerts potent anti-photoaging effects by suppressing ERK2 activity and decreasing FRA1 stability, followed by down-regulation of AP-1 transactivation and MMP-1 expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-919
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine.


  • Extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2
  • Fos-related antigen 1
  • Matrix metalloproteinase-1
  • Naringenin
  • Photoaging


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