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Br J Dermatol. 2002 Dec;147(6):1207-11.

Plasma levels of opioid peptides after sunbed exposures.

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Department of Dermatology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Gudrunstasse 56, D-4479 Bochum, Germany.



Previous studies have indicated that solar and artificial ultraviolet (UV) radiation have a positive influence on psychological variables such as mood and emotional state. Circulating opioid peptides have been suggested as being important in this effect.


To investigate in a controlled trial the influence of UVA radiation on opioid peptide levels.


We determined plasma levels of beta-endorphin immunoreactive material (IRM) and met-enkephalin in UV-exposed (n = 35) and non-exposed (n = 9) healthy volunteers. On the first day of the study, blood samples were taken from the volunteers (time A). UVA irradiation was subsequently administered with an air-conditioned tanning device. During the UV exposures the volunteers wore opaque goggles. Twenty minutes after UV exposure, blood samples were collected again (time B). Within the following 3 weeks the volunteers had a series of five UV exposures. On the last day of the study (24 h after the sixth UV exposure) blood samples were collected (time C). The cumulative UVA doses were 96 J cm-2 for skin type II and 126 J cm-2 for skin type III. The controls had no UV exposures. Plasma beta-endorphin IRM and met-enkephalin levels were determined using radioimmunoassays.


At all times of blood collection (A, B, C), there were no significant differences in plasma levels of beta-endorphin IRM and met-enkephalin between UV-exposed and non-exposed volunteers (P > 0.05).


UVA irradiation does not significantly elevate plasma levels of beta-endorphin IRM and met-enkephalin. Therefore we suggest that psychological benefits claimed to occur after UV exposure are unlikely to be mediated by the types of circulating opioid peptides measured in this study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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