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Free Radic Biol Med. 1999 Apr;26(7-8):809-16.

Nitroxide radicals protect DNA from damage when illuminated in vitro in the presence of dibenzoylmethane and a common sunscreen ingredient.

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Dipartimento di Scienze dei Materiali e della Terra, Università degli Studi di Ancona, Italy.


Indolinonic nitroxide radicals efficiently scavenge oxygen- and carbon-centered radicals. They protect lipid and protein systems against oxidative stress, but little is known about their capacity to protect DNA against radical-mediated damage. We compare indolinonic nitroxides and the piperidines TEMPO and TEMPOL for their ability to inhibit strand breaks inflicted on DNA when it is illuminated in vitro in the presence of dibenzoylmethane (DBM) and a relative, Parsol 1789, used as a UVA-absorbing sunscreen. We used spin-trapping EPR to examine the formation of radicals and plasmid nicking assays to evaluate DNA strand breakage. The results have a two-fold interest. First, they show that all the nitroxides tested efficiently prevent DNA damage in a dose-dependent fashion. Vitamin E had no effect under the conditions used. Second, they show that carbon-centered radicals are produced on illumination of DBM and its relative and that their formation is probably responsible for the direct strand breaks found when naked DNA is illuminated in vitro in their presence. Additional work on the ability of sunscreens to enter human cells and their response to the light that penetrates sunscreen-protected skin would be necessary before any conclusion could be drawn as to whether the results reported here are relevant to human use of sunscreens.

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