Waveband and Dose Dependency of Sunlight-induced Immunomodulation and Cellular Changes


  • This paper is dedicated to Professor Margaret L. Kripke on the occasion of her retirement from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

*email: garyh@med.usyd.edu.au (Gary Halliday)


Both the UVB and UVA wavebands within sunlight are immunosuppressive. This article reviews the relationship between wavebands and dose in UV-induced immunosuppression mainly concentrating on responses in humans. It also contrasts the effects of UVB and UVA on cellular changes involved in immunosuppression. Over physiological sunlight doses to which humans can be exposed during routine daily living or recreational pursuits, both UVA and UVB suppress immunity. While there is a linear dose relationship with UVB commencing at doses less than half of what is required to cause sunburn, UVA has a bell-shaped dose response over the range to which humans can be realistically exposed. At doses too low for either waveband to be suppressive, interactions between UVA and UVB augment each other, enabling immunosuppression to occur. At doses beyond where UVA is immunosuppressive, it still contributes to sunlight-induced immunosuppression via this interaction with UVB. While there is little research comparing the mechanisms by which UVB, UVA and their interactions can cause immunosuppression, it is likely that different chromophores and early molecular events are involved. There is evidence that both wavebands disrupt antigen presentation and effect T cell responses. Different individuals are likely to have different immunomodulatory responses to sunlight.