Runt-related transcription factor 3 (RUNX3) has recently been reported to be a possible predictor of sensitivity of cancer cells for photodynamic therapy (PDT), a promising therapeutic modality for keloids. In this study, we aimed to elucidate the implications of RUNX3 for keloid pathogenesis and sensitivity to pheophorbide a-based PDT (Pa-PDT). RUNX3 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) expression were examined in 6 normal skin samples and 32 keloid tissue samples by immunohistochemistry. We found that RUNX3 expression was detected more often in keloid tissues than in dermis of normal skin. In keloid tissues, RUNX3 expression was significantly increased in patients presenting with symptoms of pain or pruritus, and was also significantly related to PCNA expression. The therapeutic effect of Pa-PDT was comparatively investigated in keloid fibroblasts (KFs) with and without RUNX3 expression. Significant differences were found after Pa-PDT between KFs with and without RUNX3 expression in cell viability, proliferative ability, type I collagen expression, generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and apoptotic cell death. In addition, RUNX3 expression was significantly decreased after Pa-PDT in KFs, and KFs with downregulation of RUNX3 showed significantly increased cell viability after Pa-PDT. Pa-PDT may be a potential therapeutic modality for keloids, and RUNX3, as a possible contributor to keloid pathogenesis, may improve sensitivity to Pa-PDT in KFs.
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