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J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Dec;117(6):1437-41.

Protection against pyrimidine dimers, p53, and 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine expression in ultraviolet-irradiated human skin by sunscreens: difference between UVB + UVA and UVB alone sunscreens.

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  • 1Laboratory of Oxidative Stress and Aging, University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland.


As DNA damage induced by ultraviolet radiation plays an essential role in skin cancer induction, we pursued the measure of several DNA lesions induced by ultraviolet radiation in human skin for determining the efficacy of different topical photoprotectors. Non-exposed skin (buttocks from 20 individuals) was exposed to 10 doses of ultraviolet, which corresponded to three to four minimal erythema doses of solar-simulating radiation, and biopsies were taken at 24 h within the half and one minimal erythema dose sites and a nonirradiated, adjacent control area. We report that even suberythemal doses of ultraviolet radiation are capable of inducing substantial DNA damage, namely pyrimidine dimers, p53 induction, and the DNA base-modified product generated by oxidative stress, 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine. All three lesions are induced in a dose-dependent manner. An additional eight individuals were treated with either ultraviolet B or ultraviolet B + ultraviolet A sunblock (sun protection factor 15) and exposed to 71/2 and 15 times the minimal erythema dose on each individual, with biopsies taken at 24 h post-ultraviolet. Pyrimidine dimer and p53 expression were rarely seen in nonirradiated skin but occasional staining was seen in all normal skin for 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine. Applications of sunscreens to human skin before irradiation were shown to attenuate erythema but did not completely eliminate all three types of cellular damage when tested up to their sun protection factor 15. Furthermore, ultraviolet B + ultraviolet A sunscreens were less efficient than the ultraviolet B alone formulation for protection against all three lesions. These results suggest that DNA damage assessed in vivo by immunohistochemistry provides a very sensitive endpoint for determining the efficacy or photosensitivity of possible different protective measures in human skin.

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