UV Protective Effects of DNA Repair Enzymes and RNA Lotion


* edb4@cwru.edu (Elma D. Baron)


Solar UV radiation is known to cause immune suppression, believed to be a critical factor in cutaneous carcinogenesis. Although the mechanism is not entirely understood, DNA damage is clearly involved. Sunscreens function by attenuating the UV radiation that reaches the epidermis. However, once DNA damage ensues, repair mechanisms become essential for prevention of malignant transformation. DNA repair enzymes have shown efficacy in reducing cutaneous neoplasms among xeroderma pigmentosum patients. In vitro studies suggest that RNA fragments increase the resistance of human keratinocytes to UVB damage and enhance DNA repair but in vivo data are lacking. This study aimed to determine the effect of topical formulations containing either DNA repair enzymes (Micrococcus luteus) or RNA fragments (UVC-irradiated rabbit globin mRNA) on UV-induced local contact hypersensitivity (CHS) suppression in humans as measured in vivo using the contact allergen dinitrochlorobenzene. Immunohistochemistry was also employed in skin biopsies to evaluate the level of thymine dimers after UV. Eighty volunteers completed the CHS portion. A single 0.75 minimum erythema dose (MED) simulated solar radiation exposure resulted in 64% CHS suppression in unprotected subjects compared with unirradiated sensitized controls. In contrast, UV-induced CHS suppression was reduced to 19% with DNA repair enzymes, and 7% with RNA fragments. Sun protection factor (SPF) testing revealed an SPF of 1 for both formulations, indicating that the observed immune protection cannot be attributed to sunscreen effects. Biopsies from an additional nine volunteers showed an 18% decrease in thymine dimers by both DNA repair enzymes and RNA fragments, relative to unprotected UV-irradiated skin. These results suggest that RNA fragments may be useful as a photoprotective agent with in vivo effects comparable to DNA repair enzymes.