Adrenergic signaling in human oral keratinocytes and wound repair

P. Steenhuis, R. E. Huntley, Z. Gurenko, L. Yin, B. A. Dale, Nasim Fazel, Roslyn Rivkah Isseroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Catecholamines are present in saliva, but their influence on oral epithelium is not understood. Because psychological stress increases salivary catecholamines and impairs oral mucosal wound healing, we sought to determine if epithelial adrenergic signaling could link these two findings. We found that cultured human oral keratinocytes (HOK) express the α 2B- and Î2-adrenergic receptors (ARs). Exposure of HOK to either epinephrine or the Î-AR agonist, isoproterenol, reduced migratory speed and decreased in vitro scratch wound healing. Incubation with the Î-AR antagonist timolol reversed the catecholamine-induced effects, indicating that the observed response is mediated by Î-AR. Epinephrine treatment decreased phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) ERK1/2 and p38; these decreases were also reversed with timolol. Cultured HOK express enzymes of the epinephrine synthetic pathway, and generate epinephrine. These findings demonstrate that stress-induced elevations of salivary catecholamines signal through MAPK pathways, and result in impaired oral keratinocyte migration required for healing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-192
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • adrenergic receptor
  • catecholamines
  • oral epithelium.
  • stress
  • wound repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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