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Int J Cosmet Sci. 1998 Dec;20(6):331-42. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-2494.1998.177057.x.

In vitro antioxidant activity and in vivo photoprotective effect of a red orange extract.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Catania, V. le A. Doria 695125 Catania Italy.


Ultraviolet radiation causes damage to the skin, which may result in both precancerous and cancerous skinlesions and acceleration of skin ageing. Topical administration of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants is an effective strategy for protecting the skin against UV-mediated oxidative damage. Hence, a systematic study to evaluate the in vitro antioxidant activity and in vivo photoprotective effect of a standardized red orange extract (ROE) has been undertaken, where the main active ingredients are anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acids, flavanones and ascorbic acid. For the in vitro experiments, the ROE was tested in three models: (1) bleaching of the stable 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH test); (2) peroxidation, induced by the water-soluble radical initiator 2,2'-azobis(2-amidinopropane) hydrochloride, of mixed dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine/linoleic acid unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) (LP-LUV test); and (3) UV-induced peroxidation of phospatidylcholine multilamellar vesicles (UV-IP test). The in vivo antioxidant/radical scavenger activity was assessed by determining the ability of topically applied ROE to reduce UVB-induced skin erythema in healthy human volunteers. The results obtained in the DPPH, LP-LUV and UV-IP tests demonstrated the strong antioxidant properties of ROE, with a clear relationship between ROE scavenger efficiency and its content in antioxidant compounds. In particular, the findings obtained in the UV-IP test provide a strong rationale for using this extract as a photoprotective agent. During in vivo experiments, ROE provided to efficiently protect against photooxidative skin damage when topically applied immediately after skin exposure to UVB radiations. Interestingly, the protective effect of ROE appears higher than that elicited by another natural antioxidant (tocopherol) commonly employed in cosmetic formulations. In conclusion, the present findings demonstrate that ROE affords excellent skin photoprotection, which is very likely a result of the antioxidant/radical scavenger activity of its active ingredients. Thus, ROE might have interesting applications in both anti-photoageing and after-sun cosmetic products.

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