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Am J Pharmacogenomics. 2002;2(2):147-54.

Influence of GSTT1 and GSTM1 genotypes on sunburn sensitivity.

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Pharmacogenetics Laboratory, Epidauros Biotechnology AG, Bernried, Germany.



Exposure to sunlight may cause sunburn, skin cancer or phototoxic reactions to certain drugs such as Hypericum extract. All these are ultraviolet B (UVB)-mediated reactions which may be modulated by individual genetic susceptibility. UVB exposure results in oxidative stress. Many products of oxidative stress are detoxified by glutathione-S-transferases mu 1 (GSTM1) and theta 1 (GSTT1). Deletion polymorphisms (genotype *0/*0) of GSTM1 and GSTT1 occur in 50% and 20% of Caucasians, respectively. By affecting the individual ability to detoxify oxidative stress-related products, they may influence the severity of the cutaneous photoreaction.


Minimal erythema doses (MED) of UVB irradiation on the skin were determined in 110 subjects who were selected according to their GSTT1 genotype (28 GSTT1*0/*0, 54 GSTT1*A/*0, and 28 GSTT1*A/*A). Genotypes were detected with novel polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays that allow the differentiation between homozygous and heterozygous GSTT1 and GSTM1 deletions.


In the absence of GSTT1 enzyme, the susceptibility of individuals to UVB-induced inflammatory skin reactions increased significantly (p = 0.02, ANCOVA). 'Gene-equivalents' were calculated from the number of functional GSTM1 and GSTT1 alleles as a measure of the gene-dose. UVB sensitivity correlated with gene dose up to a threshold above which additional GSTT1 or GSTM1 alleles did not provide additional protection. Volunteers who were homozygously deficient in GSTT1 and GSTM1 were most sensitive to UVB. Interestingly, individuals with high GSTM1 gene-doses showed increased photosensitization after administration of Hypericum extract (St. John's wort).


Individuals harboring the *0/*0 genotype of GSTT1 and/or GSTM1 showed enhanced UVB-induced cutaneous damage. Moreover, GST genotypes modulated Hypericum-induced photosensitization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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