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Mutat Res. 1996 Oct 18;364(2):117-23.

The effect of donor age on the processing of UV-damaged DNA by cultured human cells: reduced DNA repair capacity and increased DNA mutability.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Aging in humans carries an increased risk of skin cancer, a disorder linked to somatic mutations in sun damaged skin. DNA repair plays a major role in protection against sun damage. We found an age-related decline in post-UV DNA repair capacity (measured by the ability to repair a UV-treated plasmid (pCMVcat)) of-0.6% per year (p = 0.0001) in cultured primary skin fibroblasts from normal donors from the first to the tenth decade of life. There was a corresponding age-related increase in post-UV mutability (measured as mutations introduced into a transfected, UV-treated plasmid (pSP189)) of +0.6% per year (p = 0.001) in lymphoblastoid cell lines from normal donors of the same age range. This study indicates that aging in humans is associated with decreasing ability to process new UV-induced DNA damage and this age-related reduction in DNA repair capacity and increase in DNA mutability is reflected in cultured skin and blood cells.

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