Trametinib-Induced Epidermal Thinning Accelerates a Mouse Model of Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa
Junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB) patients experience skin and epithelial fragility due to a pathological deficiency in genes associated with epidermal adhesion. Disease severity ranges from post-natal lethality to localized skin involvement with persistent blistering followed by granulation tissue formation and atrophic scarring. We evaluated the potential of utilizing Trametinib, an MEK inhibitor previously shown to target fibrosis, with and without the documented EB-anti-fibrotic Losartan for reducing disease severity in a mouse model of JEB; Lamc2 jeb mice. We found that Trametinib treatment accelerated disease onset and decreased epidermal thickness, which was in large part ameliorated by Losartan treatment. Interestingly, a range of disease severity was observed in Trametinib-treated animals that tracked with epidermal thickness; those animals grouped with higher disease severity had thinner epidermis. To examine if the difference in severity was related to inflammation, we conducted immunohistochemistry for the immune cell markers CD3, CD4, CD8, and CD45 as well as the fibrotic marker αSMA in mouse ears. We used a positive pixel algorithm to analyze the resulting images and demonstrated that Trametinib caused a non-significant reduction in CD4 expression that inversely tracked with increased fibrotic severity. With the addition of Losartan to Trametinib, CD4 expression was similar to control. Together, these data suggest that Trametinib causes a reduction in both epidermal proliferation and immune cell infiltration/proliferation, with concurrent acceleration of skin fragility, while Losartan counteracts Trametinib’s adverse effects in a mouse model of JEB.