Ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation of skin induces an acute inflammation. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) protein plays key roles in acute inflammation in UVB-irradiated keratinocyte cell line HaCaT. Recently, curcumin has been regarded as a promising anti-inflammatory agent due to its ability to inhibit COX-2 expression. However, it remains largely unknown whether curcumin inhibits the UVB-induced COX-2 expression in HaCaT cells. This study was undertaken to clarify the effect of curcumin on the expression of COX-2 in UVB- irradiated HaCaT cells and further determined the molecular mechanisms associated with this process. In this study, we have found that the expression of COX-2 mRNA and protein were up-regulated in UVB-irradiated HaCaT cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Interestingly, treatment with curcumin strongly inhibited COX-2 mRNA and protein expressions in UVB-irradiated HaCaT cells. Notably, there was effective inhibition by curcumin on UVB-induced activations of p38 MAPK and JNK in HaCaT cells. The DNA binding activity of AP-1 transcription factor was also markedly decreased with curcumin treatment in UVB-irradiated HaCaT cells. These results collectively suggest that curcumin may inhibit COX- 2 expression by suppressing p38 MAPK and JNK activities in UVB-irradiated HaCaT cells. We propose that curcumin may be applied as an effective and novel sunscreen drug for the protection of photoinflammation.
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