Particulate matter (PM), a widespread air pollutant, consists of a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles suspended in air. Many diseases have been linked to PM exposure, which induces an imbalance in reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated in cells, and might result in skin diseases (such as aging and atopic dermatitis). New techniques involving nanomedicine and nano-delivery systems are being rapidly developed in the medicinal field. Fullerene, a kind of nanomaterial, acts as a super radical scavenger. Lower water solubility levels limit the bio-applications of fullerene. Hence, to improve the water solubility of fullerene, while retaining its radical scavenger functions, a fullerene derivative, fullerenol C60(OH)36, was synthesized, to examine its biofunctions in PM-exposed human keratinocyte (HaCaT) cells. The PM-induced increase in ROS levels and expression of phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinase and Akt could be inhibited via fullerenol pre-treatment. Furthermore, the expression of inflammation-related proteins, cyclooxygenase-2, heme oxygenase-1, and prostaglandin E2 was also suppressed. Fullerenol could preserve the impaired state of skin barrier proteins (filaggrin, involucrin, repetin, and loricrin), which was attributable to PM exposure. These results suggest that fullerenol could act against PM-induced cytotoxicity via ROS scavenging and anti-inflammatory mechanisms, and the maintenance of expression of barrier proteins, and is a potential candidate compound for the treatment of skin diseases.
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