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Pigment Cell Res. 2002 Oct;15(5):379-84.

Comparing quantitative measures of erythema, pigmentation and skin response using reflectometry.

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Department of Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.


We measured a number of pigmentation and skin response phenotypes in a sample of volunteers (n=397) living in State College, PA. The majority of this sample was composed of four groups based on stated ancestry: African-American, European-American, Hispanic and East Asian. Several measures of melanin concentration (L*, melanin index and adjusted melanin index) were estimated by diffuse reflectance spectroscopy and compared. The efficacy of these measures for assessing constitutive pigmentation and melanogenic dose-response was evaluated. Similarly, several measures of erythema (a*, erythema index and adjusted erythema index) were compared and evaluated in their efficacy in measuring erythema and erythemal dose-response. We show a high correspondence among all of the measures for the assessment of constitutive pigmentation and baseline erythema. However, our results demonstrate that evaluating melanogenic dose-response is highly dependent on the summary statistic used: while L* is a valid measure of constitutive pigmentation it is not an effective measure of melanogenic dose-response. Our results also confirm the use of a*, as it is shown to be highly correlated with the adjusted erythema index, a more advanced measure of erythema based on the apparent absorbance. Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy can be used to quantify the constitutive pigmentation, melanogenic dose-response at 7 d and erythemal dose-response at both 24 h and 7 d postexposure.

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