Thyrotropin-releasing hormone controls mitochondrial biology in human epidermis

Jana Knuever, Burkhard Poeggeler, Erzsébet Gáspár, Matthias Klinger, Thomas Hellwig-Burgel, Celine Hardenbicker, Balázs I. Tóth, Tamás Bíró, Ralf Paus*

*Corresponding author for this work
16 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Mitochondrial capacity and metabolic potential are under the control of hormones, such as thyroid hormones. The most proximal regulator of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, TRH, is the key hypothalamic integrator of energy metabolism via its impact on thyroid hormone secretion. Objective: Here, we asked whether TRH directly modulates mitochondrial functions in normal, TRH-receptor-positive human epidermis. Methods: Organ-cultured human skin was treated with TRH (5-100 ng/ml) for 12-48 h. Results: TRH significantly increased epidermal immunoreactivity for the mitochondria-selective subunit I of respiratory chain complex IV (MTCO1). This resulted from an increased MTCO1 transcription and protein synthesis and a stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis as demonstrated by transmission electron microscopy and TRH-enhanced mitochondrial DNA synthesis. TRH also significantly stimulated the transcription of several other mitochondrial key genes (TFAM, HSP60, and BMAL1), including the master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis (PGC-1α). TRH significantly enhanced mitochondrial complex I and IV enzyme activity and enhanced the oxygen consumption of human skin samples, which shows that the stimulated mitochondria are fully vital because the main source for cellular oxygen consumption is mitochondrial endoxidation. Conclusions: These findings identify TRH as a potent, novel neuroendocrine stimulator of mitochondrial activity and biogenesis in human epidermal keratinocytes in situ. Thus, human epidermis offers an excellent model for dissecting neuroendocrine controls of human mitochondrial biology under physiologically relevant conditions and for exploring corresponding clinical applications.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)978-986
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2012


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