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J Invest Dermatol. 1998 Jul;111(1):159-63.

Evidence that ferritin is UV inducible in human skin: part of a putative defense mechanism.

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Department of Dermatology, Laboratory of Photobiology, University Hospital (DHURDV), Lausanne, Switzerland.


As ferritin has been identified as an important factor in antioxidant defense in cultured human skin cells we evaluated the presence of ferritin in human skin in vivo and the modifications following irradiation with UVA I, UVA I + II, and solar simulating light by immunohistochemical analysis. We report that the putative protective protein ferritin is regularly present in the basal layer of unirradiated epidermis in vivo and that the induction of ferritin was dependent on wavelength and cell type. Following UVA I radiation, ferritin increased both in epidermal and in dermal tissue. The same response occurred, although to a lesser extent, with UVA I + II but did not occur following solar simulating radiation. Quantitative analysis for ferritin in cultured keratinocytes and fibroblasts from seven individuals following each UV spectra were also assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The induction of ferritin by UV was highly dependent on the waveband and cell type. UVA I and UVA I + II radiations induced ferritin expression in dermal fibroblasts up to 260% and 200% over basal levels, respectively. Solar simulating radiation produced only a small induction of approximately 130% over basal ferritin levels in dermal fibroblasts. Ferritin increased in cultured fibroblasts as early as 3 h post-UVA with a peak at 6 h that remained until 48 h; there was no observable qualitative or quantitative increase seen in the undifferentiated cultured epidermal keratinocytes. Our findings indicate that the putative defense system of ferritin exists in human skin in vivo and its induction is dependent on UV spectra and cell type. The increased concentrations of this antioxidant in human skin following acute UV radiation could afford increased protection against subsequent oxidative stress.

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