• Open Access

Cutaneous responses to environmental stressors


Giuseppe Valacchi, Ph.D., Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Via Borsari, 46 – 44100 FE, Italy. giuseppe.valacchi@unife.it


Living organisms are continuously exposed to environmental pollutants. Because of its critical location, the skin is a major interface between the body and the environment and provides a biological barrier against an array of chemical and physical environmental pollutants. The skin can be defined as our first defense against the environment because of its constant exposure to oxidants, including ultraviolet (UV) radiation and other environmental pollutants such as diesel fuel exhaust, cigarette smoke (CS), halogenated hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and ozone (O3). The exposure to environmental pro-oxidant agents leads to the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the generation of bioactive molecules that can damage skin cells. This short review provides an overview of the effects and mechanisms of action of CS, O3, and UV on cutanous tissues.