Zinc deficiency can be an inherited disorder, in which case it is known as acrodermatitis enteropathica (AE), or an acquired disorder caused by low dietary intake of zinc. Even though zinc deficiency diminishes cellular and humoral immunity, patients develop immunostimulating skin inflammation. Here, we have demonstrated that despite diminished allergic contact dermatitis in mice fed a zinc-deficient (ZD) diet, irritant contact dermatitis (ICD) in these mice was more severe and prolonged than that in controls. Further, histological examination of ICD lesions in ZD mice revealed subcorneal vacuolization and epidermal pallor, histological features of AE. Consistent with the fact that ATP release from chemically injured keratinocytes serves as a causative mediator of ICD, we found that the severe ICD response in ZD mice was attenuated by local injection of soluble nucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase. In addition, skin tissue from ZD mice with ICD showed increased levels of ATP, as did cultured wild-type keratinocytes treated with chemical irritants and the zinc-chelating reagent TPEN. Interestingly, numbers of epidermal Langerhans cells (LCs), which play a protective role against ATP-mediated inflammatory signals, were decreased in ZD mice as well as samples from ZD patients. These findings suggest that upon exposure to irritants, aberrant ATP release from keratinocytes and impaired LC-dependent hydrolysis of nucleotides may be important in the pathogenesis of AE.


Tatsuyoshi Kawamura, Youichi Ogawa, Yuumi Nakamura, Satoshi Nakamizo, Yoshihiro Ohta, Hajime Nakano, Kenji Kabashima, Ichiro Katayama, Schuichi Koizumi, Tatsuhiko Kodama, Atsuhito Nakao, Shinji Shimada


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