Naringenin Targets ERK2 and Suppresses UVB-Induced Photoaging

Funding Source

Hormel Institute, National Institutes of Health, National Research Foundation (Republic of Korea)

Grant Number

CA120388, CA111536, CA077646, R37CA0810064, 2015R1A2A1A10053567


Department of Chemistry

Document Type


Publication Date



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.


DOI: 10.1111/jcmm.12780

PubMed ID: 26861188


Contract grant sponsor: The Hormel Foundation, National Institutes of Health grants CA120388, CA111536, CA077646, R37CA0810064; Leap Research Program through the National Research Foundation, Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Republic of Korea (2015R1A2A1A10053567) and a grant from the Korea Food Research Institute, Republic of Korea.