Proteomic profiling reveals candidate markers for arsenic-induced skin keratosis

Zhiling Guo, Qin Hu, Jijing Tian, Li Yan, Chuanyong Jing, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Wenjun Bao, Robert H. Rice, Bin Zhao, Guibin Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Proteomics technology is an attractive biomarker candidate discovery tool that can be applied to study large sets of biological molecules. To identify novel biomarkers and molecular targets in arsenic-induced skin lesions, we have determined the protein profile of arsenic-affected human epidermal stratum corneum by shotgun proteomics. Samples of palm and foot sole from healthy subjects were analyzed, demonstrating similar protein patterns in palm and sole. Samples were collected from the palms of subjects with arsenic keratosis (lesional and adjacent non-lesional samples) and arsenic-exposed subjects without lesions (normal). Samples from non-exposed healthy individuals served as controls. We found that three proteins in arsenic-exposed lesional epidermis were consistently distinguishably expressed from the unaffected epidermis. One of these proteins, the cadherin-like transmembrane glycoprotein, desmoglein 1 (DSG1) was suppressed. Down-regulation of DSG1 may lead to reduced cell-cell adhesion, resulting in abnormal epidermal differentiation. The expression of keratin 6c (KRT6C) and fatty acid binding protein 5 (FABP5) were significantly increased. FABP5 is an intracellular lipid chaperone that plays an essential role in fatty acid metabolism in human skin. This raises a possibility that overexpression of FABP5 may affect the proliferation or differentiation of keratinocytes by altering lipid metabolism. KRT6C is a constituent of the cytoskeleton that maintains epidermal integrity and cohesion. Abnormal expression of KRT6C may affect its structural role in the epidermis. Our findings suggest an important approach for future studies of arsenic-mediated toxicity and skin cancer, where certain proteins may represent useful biomarkers of early diagnoses in high-risk populations and hopefully new treatment targets. Further studies are required to understand the biological role of these markers in skin pathogenesis from arsenic exposure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-38
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Early online date20 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


  • proteomic
  • arsenic
  • biomarker
  • skin keratosis
  • human epidermis


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