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CNS Neurosci Ther. 2016 Feb;22(2):118-26. doi: 10.1111/cns.12444. Epub 2015 Aug 30.

Ultraviolet Radiation on the Skin: A Painful Experience?

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Neurorestoration group, Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, King's College London, London, UK.


Excessive exposure of skin to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) has dramatic clinical effects in humans, and it is a significant public health concern. Discomfort and sensory changes caused by skin sunburn are the main common features experienced by many of us, a phenomena triggered by the combination of long and short wavelengths radiation (UVA and UVB, respectively). Although the biological processes underlying UVR exposure are not fully understood, in the last few years many studies have made significant progress in characterizing sunburn at the cellular and molecular levels, making use of both humans and laboratory animal models. Here we review and reason that UVR can be used as an excellent model of sensitization and inflammation for pain research. UVR, particularly UVB, produces a controllable and sterile inflammation that causes a robust dose-dependent hypersensitivity with minimal confounding effects. Importantly, we show that UVR animal models precisely recapitulate the sensory, cellular, and molecular changes observed in human skin, giving it great confidence as a translational model. Furthermore, in this article, we give an overview of the pharmacology underlying UVB inflammation, the latest advances in the field, and potential new targets for inflammatory pain.


Inflammation; Pain; Pharmacology; UVB; UVR

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