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Effects of UVA1 Phototherapy on Expression of Human Endogenous Retroviral Sequence (HERV)-K10 gag in Morphea: A Preliminary Study

Michał Jacek Kowalczyk, Ewa Teresiak-Mikołajczak, Aleksandra Dańczak-Pazdrowska, Ryszard Żaba, Zygmunt Adamski, Agnieszka Osmola-Mańkowska

(Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Psoriasis and Novel Therapies in Dermatology Unit, Poznań University of Medical Sciences, Poznań, Poland)

Med Sci Monit 2017; 23:505-512

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.897985


BACKGROUND: Morphea, also known as localized scleroderma, is a rare autoimmune connective tissue disease characterized by skin fibrosis. UVA1 phototherapy is an important asset in the reduction of clinical manifestations in morphea. There are studies claiming that UV light modulates the expression of some human endogenous retroviral sequences.
The aim of this study was to determine if the expression of HERV-K10 gag element is lowered by UVA1 phototherapy in morphea, a disease in which such irradiation has a soothing effect.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: The expression levels of the HERV-K10 gag were assessed by real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and skin-punch biopsies of healthy volunteers and 9 morphea patients before and after phototherapy. Additionally, correlations between the HERV-K10 gag expression and age, disease duration, the Localized Scleroderma Skin Severity Index (LoSSI), and antinuclear antibody (ANA) titers were assessed.
RESULTS: In PBMC, HERV-K10 gag mRNA was significantly elevated after UVA1 phototherapy compared to healthy controls. Most of the patients responded with an increased expression level of this sequence. However, we found no statistical evidence at this point that phototherapy indeed has an effect on the HERV-K10 gag expression (there were no statistical differences in PBMC of morphea patients before and after phototherapy). Similarly, there was no statistically relevant effect of the UVA1 on the expression of HERV-K10 gag in skin.
CONCLUSIONS: At this point, the effect of UVA1 phototherapy on the expression of HERV-K10 gag cannot be statistically confirmed.

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