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Arch Dermatol Res. 1995;287(8):747-53.

Antioxidant defence mechanism of the skin against UV irradiation: study of the role of catalase using acatalasaemia fibroblasts.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Shinshu University School of Medicine, Matsumoto, Japan.


To clarify the role of catalase, an antioxidant enzyme, in response to UV irradiation, we compared the effects of irradiation on cytotoxicity, activities of antioxidant enzymes, total glutathione concentrations, lipid peroxidation and the rate of collagen synthesis in skin fibroblasts from a patient with acatalasaemia and in those from a normal individual. The cells were irradiated with UVA (6 and 12 J/cm2 or UVB (0.5 and 1 J/cm2). Cell survival curves after UV irradiation were similar in cells from both subjects. Although superoxide dismutase activity in acatalasaemia cells was higher than in the control cells before irradiation, after irradiation the activity decreased in acatalasaemia cells (76% with 12 J/cm2 UVA, 47% with 1 J/cm2 UVB), but remained unchanged in control cells. Total glutathione concentrations also decreased in acatalasaemia cells (60% with 12 J/cm2) in response to UVA irradiation, but remained unchanged in control cells. Lipid peroxidation did not increase significantly in either cell type. The rate of collagen synthesis decreased to a similar extent in response to UV exposure in the two cell types (60-80% with 8.2 J/cm2 UVA, 40-50% with 10 mJ/cm2 UVB). We conclude from the results of cytotoxicity and lipid peroxidation that although acatalasaemia cells were killed by hydrogen peroxide at low concentrations with a single UV exposure, catalase functions only to a small degree as an antioxidant enzyme. There remains the possibility, however, that a deficiency of catalase may chronically damage the skin resulting in a reduced defence function of superoxide dismutase and glutathione with repeated exposures to UV, which is becoming more common in our daily life.

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