Exposure to particulate matter (PM) has been linked to pulmonary and cardiovascular dysfunctions, as well as skin diseases, etc. PM impairs the skin barrier functions and is also involved in the initiation or exacerbation of skin inflammation, which is linked to the activation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) pathways. Fullerene is a single C60 molecule which has been reported to act as a good radical scavenger. However, its poor water solubility limits its biological applications. The glyco-modification of fullerenes increases their water solubility and anti-bacterial and anti-virus functions. However, it is still unclear whether it affects their anti-inflammatory function against PM-induced skin diseases. Hence, glycofullerenes were synthesized to investigate their effects on PM-exposed HaCaT human keratinocytes. Our results showed that glycofullerenes could reduce the rate of PM-induced apoptosis and ROS production, as well as decrease the expression of downstream mitogen-activated protein kinase and Akt pathways. Moreover, PM-induced increases in inflammatory-related signals, such as cyclooxygenase-2, heme oxygenase-1, and prostaglandin E2, were also suppressed by glycofullerenes. Notably, our results suggested that PM-induced impairment of skin barrier proteins, such as filaggrin, involucrin, repetin, and loricrin, could be reduced by pre-treatment with glycofullerenes. The results of this study indicate that glycofullerenes could be potential candidates for treatments against PM-induced skin diseases and that they exert their protective effects via ROS scavenging, anti-inflammation, and maintenance of the expression of barrier proteins.
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