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Determinants of skin sensitivity to solar irradiation

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Author: Broekmans, W.M.R. · Vink, A.A. · Boelsma, E. · Klöpping-Ketelaars, W.A.A. · Tijburg, L.B.M. · Veer, P. van 't · Poppel, G. van · Kardinaal, A.F.M.
Institution: TNO Voeding
Source:European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 10, 57, 1222-1229
Identifier: 237321
doi: doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601672
Keywords: Health · Physiological Sciences · Carotenoids · Minimal erythema dose · Phenotypical and nutritional determinants · Skin melanin content · UV-induced erythema · alpha carotene · alpha tocopherol · ascorbic acid · beta carotene · carotenoid · cholesterol · cryptoxanthin · lycopene · melanin · retinol · xanthophyll · zeaxanthin · adolescent · adult · aged · article · blood · chemistry · cholesterol blood level · classification · controlled study · correlation analysis · dietary intake · disease association · erythema · eye color · female · hair color · human · human experiment · human tissue · hypothesis · male · nutrition · phenotype · prediction · prevalence · quantitative analysis · questionnaire · radiation dose · radiation exposure · radiation response · radiosensitivity · reflectometry · risk factor · sex difference · skin · skin cancer · skin carcinogenesis · skin pigmentation · skin sensitivity · skin tumor · solar radiation · statistical significance · sunlight · ultraviolet irradiation · ultraviolet radiation · vitamin blood level · volunteer · Adolescent · Adult · Aged · Ascorbic Acid · Carotenoids · Cross-Sectional Studies · Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation · Erythema · Eye Color · Female · Hair Color · Humans · Male · Melanins · Middle Aged · Sex Factors · Skin · Skin Neoplasms · Skin Pigmentation · Ultraviolet Rays


Background: Acute effects of UV irradiation include UV-induced erythema. Sunlight plays an important role in the development of skin cancer. Several predictive factors of UV-induced erythema could also be predictive for skin cancer. Objective: Our objective was to quantitatively assess phenotypical and nutritional determinants of sensitivity to UV irradiation, as assessed by the minimal erythema dose (MED). Design: We conducted a cross-sectional study among 335 volunteers. Sensitivity to UV irradiation was established through assessment of the MED. Phenotypical determinants, including skin melanin content, hair color and iris color were determined by skin reflectance spectrometry, a subjective questionnaire and an objective classification system, respectively. Furthermore, dietary exposure was measured by carotenoids, vitamin C, retinol and α-tocopherol in serum. Results: Male subjects were found to be more sensitive to UV irradiation; that is, the MED was significantly lower compared to female subjects. Skin melanin content, which was positively associated with iris color in both sexes and with hair color in men, was the main phenotypical determinant of sensitivity to UV irradiation. No associations were found between serum carotenoids and MED in the total study group. Vitamin C was inversely associated with MED. However, associations between carotenoids concentrations and MED showed a positive trend in subjects with melanin values above and a negative trend in subjects below the median after adjustment for gender and total cholesterol. Conclusions: Skin melanin content and gender are important determinants of sensitivity to UV irradiation. No relation was found between serum carotenoids and MED in the total study group. The inverse association between vitamin C and MED was against our hypothesis. For the modifying effect of melanin on the association between carotenoids and MED, we do not have a clear biological explanation.