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J Invest Dermatol. 1989 Apr;92(4):561-4.

UVB irradiation induces melanocyte increase in both exposed and shielded human skin.

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Department of Oncology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


This study demonstrates for the first time in humans that UV light induces an increase of the melanocyte population in exposed skin as well as in shielded areas. Because an increased mitotic activity could promote tumor development, UV exposure might play a role in melanoma development not only in exposed but also in covered skin. In addition, it was found that subjects who initially had a small melanocyte population showed a larger increase in both exposed and covered skin compared to those with a high initial density. Individuals with a low density might therefore constitute a risk group for the development of malignant melanoma. These findings support the view that infrequent periods of intensive UV irradiation might be more harmful than regular exposure.

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