Sunscreen protection of contact hypersensitivity responses from chronic solar-simulated ultraviolet irradiation correlates with the absorption spectrum of the sunscreen.J Invest Dermatol. 1995 Sep; 105(3):345-51.JI
This study compares the ability of two ultraviolet (UV) B-absorbing sunscreens, 2-ethylhexyl p-methoxycinnamate (2-EHMC) and 2-ethylhexyl p-aminobenzoate (Padimate O), and two physical sunscreens, microfine titanium dioxide (MTD) and zinc oxide, to protect the skin immune system from chronic (4 weeks) solar-simulated UV irradiation. Mice were exposed to suberythemal doses of UV before assessing local and systemic immunosuppression and tolerance to a contact sensitizer. Using a UV protocol that induced local but not systemic immunosuppression or tolerance in BALB/c mice, it was shown that Padimate O made the immunosuppression worse, whereas 2-EHMC and MTD protected the immune system. When the cumulative dose was increased by 12.7%, causing systemic immunosuppression and tolerance, none of the sunscreens protected from immunosuppression, but 2-EHMC provided partial, and MTD gave complete protection from tolerance. To examine this apparent lack of protection from systemic immunosuppression, C3H/HeJ mice were used. These mice had a minimal erythema dose similar to that of the BALB/c mice but were systemically immunosuppressed, with only 44% of the UV dose required to immunosuppress BALB/c mice. 2-EHMC provided some protection, whereas MTD provided complete protection from systemic immunosuppression in C3H/HeJ mice. Hence, sunscreens can protect from local and systemic immunosuppression, although this protection is limited and is not related to the sun protection factor of the sunscreens or the minimal erythema dose of the mouse strain. Instead, protection seems to be related to the sunscreens' having a broad absorption spectrum.