Hypoxia-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition mediates fibroblast abnormalities via EKR activation in cutaneous wound healing

Jihee Kim, Bomi Kim, Soo Min Kim, Chae Eun Yang, Seung Yong Song, Won Jai Lee, JuHee Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Previous studies described the involvement of extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK) in systemic fibrotic diseases, but the role of ERK in cutaneous scarring is unknown. Although hypoxia drives tissue fibrosis by activating hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α), the specific roles of hypoxia and associated ERK phosphorylation in abnormal fibroblast activity during cutaneous scarring are unclear. Here, we investigated whether pathologic myofibroblast-like keloid fibroblast activity is promoted by hypoxia-induced epithelial–mesenchymal transition mediated by ERK activation. ERK phosphorylation was significantly increased in keloid tissue and fibroblasts. Human dermal fibroblasts cultured under hypoxia (1% O2) expressed phosphorylated ERK and exhibited activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling. Hypoxic human dermal fibroblasts showed increased protein and mRNA levels of epithelial–mesenchymal transition markers. Furthermore, administration of an ERK inhibitor (SCH772984) reduced the hypoxia-induced elevation of collagen type I levels in human dermal fibroblasts. Therefore, ERK may be a promising therapeutic target in profibrogenic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2546
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 2


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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