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J Invest Dermatol. 1998 Oct;111(4):629-33.

Non-coherent near infrared radiation protects normal human dermal fibroblasts from solar ultraviolet toxicity.

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Institut de Recherche sur la Peau, INSERM U312, Hôpital Saint Louis, Paris, France.


The sun is the most important and universal source of non-ionizing radiation shed on human populations. Life evolved on Earth bathed by this radiation. Solar UV damages cells, leading to deleterious conditions such as photoaging and carcinogenesis in human skin. During the process of evolution, the cells selected dark- and light-dependent repair mechanisms as a defence against these hazardous effects. This study describes the induction by non-coherent infrared radiation (700-2000 nm), in the absence of rising temperature, of a strong cellular defense against solar UV cytotoxicity as well as induction of cell mitosis. Blocking mitoses with arabinoside-cytosine or protein synthesis with cycloheximide did not abolish the protection, leading to the conclusion that this protection is independent of cell division and of protein neosynthesis. The protection provided by infrared radiation against solar UV radiation is shown to be a long-lasting (at least 24 h) and cumulatif phenomenon. Infrared radiation does not protect the lipids in cellular membranes against UVA induced peroxidation. The protection is not mediated by heat shock proteins. Living organisms on the Earth's surface are bathed by infrared radiation every day, before being submitted to solar UV. Thus, we propose that this as yet undescribed natural process of cell protection against solar UV, acquired and preserved through evolutional selection, plays an important role in life maintenance. Understanding and controlling this mechanism could provide important keys to the prevention of solar UV damage of human skin.

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