UVA II Exposure of Human Skin Results in Decreased Immunization Capacity, Increased Induction of Tolerance and a Unique Pattern of Epidermal Antigen-Presenting Cell Alteration


*Department of Dermatology, Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals of Cleveland, 11100 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH44106–5028, USA. Fax:216–844-8993; e-mail: kdc@po.cwru.edu.


Abstract— The risks incurred from increased exposure to UVA II (320-340 nm) (i.e. during sunscreen use and extended outdoor exposure, tanning parlors) are not well understood. Therefore, we explored the effects of UVA II on skin immune responses in humans. After a single local exposure (4 minimum erythemal dose [MED]) using a xenon arc lamp filtered with a narrow bandpass filter (335 ± 5 nm full width at half maximum), individuals were contact-sensitized with dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) through a UVA II exposure site or through normal skin. UVA II induced a marked decrease in the magnitude of skin immune responses (P < 0.0001). The UVA II group had only 29% successful sensitizations, as compared to 83% in the control group. The percentage of individuals who remained tolerant to DNCB after two sensitizations was 23.6% for the UVA II-exposed group, as compared to 3.8% in the controls (P= 0.006). UVA II also uniquely altered the type of antigen-presenting cells present in the epidermis. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR+ cells in control epidermal cell suspensions (C-EC) comprised a single, homogeneous population of Langerhans cells (LC) with the phenotype: CD1ahi DRmid CD11b CD36 (1.5 ± 0.3% of EC). UVA II irradiation reduced the number of such LC to 0.6 ± 0.2% of EC. Although cells expressing the macrophage phenotype: CD1a DRhi CD11b+ CD36+ were increased in UVA II skin, relative to C-EC, these comprised only 10.1 ± 6.1% of the DR+ cells, which is less than that after UVB exposure. Also distinct from UVB, a third population was found in UVA II-EC, which exhibited a novel phenotype: CD1a+ DR+ CD36+ CDllb+; these comprised 11.1 ± 6.9% of the DR+ UVA II-EC.

In conclusion, despite the above differences in infiltrating DR cells, both UVB and UVA II reduce the skin's ability to support contact sensitization, induce active suppression (tolerance) and induce a reduction in LC.