Content » Vol 98, Issue 9

Investigative Report

Sub-optimal Application of a High SPF Sunscreen Prevents Epidermal DNA Damage in Vivo

Antony R. Young, Jessica Greenaway, Graham I. Harrison, Karl P. Lawrence, Robert Sarkany, Thierry Douki, France Boyer, Gwendal Josse, Emmanuel Questel, Camille Monteil, Ana B. Rossi
DOI: 10.2340/00015555-2992


The cyclobutane pyrimidine dimer (CPD) is a potentially mutagenic DNA photolesion that is the basis of most skin cancers. There are no data on DNA protection by sunscreens under typical conditions of use. The study aim was to determine such protection, in phototypes I/II, with representative sunscreen-user application. A very high SPF formulation was applied at 0.75, 1.3 and 2.0 mg/cm2. Unprotected control skin was exposed to 4 standard erythema doses (SED) of solar simulated UVR, and sunscreen-treated sites to 30 SED. Holiday behaviour was also simulated by UVR exposure for 5 consecutive days. Control skin received 1 SED daily, and sunscreen-treated sites received 15 (all 3 application thicknesses) or 30 (2.0 mg/cm2) SED daily. CPD were assessed by quantitative HPLC-tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) and semi-quantitative immunostaining. In comparison with unprotected control sites, sunscreen significantly (p ≤ 0.001–0.05) reduced DNA damage at 1.3 and 2.0 mg/cm2 in all cases. However, reduction with typical sunscreen use (0.75 mg/cm2) was non-significant, with the exception of HPLC-MS/MS data for the 5-day study (p < 0.001). Overall, these results support sunscreen use as a strategy to reduce skin cancer, and demonstrate that public health messages must stress better sunscreen application to get maximal benefit.


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