Sunscreens prevent local and systemic immunosuppression of contact hypersensitivity in mice exposed to solar-simulated ultraviolet radiation.J Photochem Photobiol B. 1997 Jun; 39(2):121-9.JP
Ultraviolet (UV) irradiation causes the immunosuppression of contact hypersensitivity (CH) responses in animals and humans. There are conflicting reports regarding the effectiveness of sunscreens in preventing UV-induced suppression of both local-type CH (induced by the application of the contact sensitizer directly to UV-exposed skin) and systemic-type CH (induced by the application of the contact sensitizer to an unirradiated skin site 3 days after UV exposure). The purposes of this study were as follows: 1. to derive solar simulator UV dose-response curves for the induction of local and systemic CH suppression in C3H mice; 2. to establish minimum immune suppression doses (MISDs) for local and systemic CH; 3. to determine the local and systemic immune protection capacity of two commercial sunscreen lotions with labeled sun protection factors (SPFs) of 4 and 8. Dose-response curves for the induction of local and systemic CH suppression were derived by exposing groups of mice to a range of full-spectrum UV doses (0.37-21.4 kJ m-2) on two consecutive days delivered from a filtered 1000 W xenon arc lamp solar simulator. The MISDs, defined as the lowest dose tested to cause approximately 50% suppression of the normal CH response, were obtained from the dose-response curves. Although the local and systemic immunosuppression dose-response curves were not statistically different, the MISD for local suppression of CH (1.35 kJ m-2) was about fivefold lower than that for systemic CH suppression (6.76 kJ m-2). The MISD was used as the endpoint to determine sunscreen immune protection levels. Both sunscreens, applied at 2 mg cm-2, provided immune protection against the induction of local and systemic CH suppression in mice exposed to an effective UV dose of 1 MISD given through the sunscreen, i.e. 4 MISD to SPF 4 sunscreen-protected mice and 8 MISD to SPF 8 sunscreen-protected mice mounted CH responses that were significantly greater than those elicited in unprotected mice exposed to 1 MISD of solar-simulated UV radiation. The calculated immune protection factors for these sunscreens exceeded the level of protection predicted by their labeled SPFs, i.e. the local immune protection factor of both sunscreens was 15 and the systemic immune protection factors were 8 for the SPF 4 sunscreen and 15 for the SPF 8 sunscreen. Our data show that these two sunscreens provide levels of immune protection which exceed the levels predicted by their labeled SPFs in immunoprotection tests conducted in mice exposed to a relevant MISD of UV radiation from a source emitting a UV power spectrum similar to that of sunlight.