Effect of UV Radiation on the Neonatal Skin Immune System— Implications for Melanoma


  • 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: Konrad.Muller@utas.edu.au (H. Konrad Muller)


The neonatal immune environment and the events that occur during this time have profound effects for the adult period. While protective immune responses can develop, the neonatal immune system, particularly the skin immune system (SIS), tends to promote tolerance. With this information we undertook a number of studies to identify unique aspects of skin during the neonatal period. Proteomics revealed proteins uniquely expressed in neonatal, but not adult, skin (e.g. Stefin A, peroxiredoxins) and these may have implications in the development of SIS. Vitamin D was found to have a modulating role on SIS and this was apparent from the early neonatal period. Exposure of the neonatal skin to UV radiation altered the microenvironment resulting in the generation of regulatory T cells, which persisted in adult life. As the development of UV radiation-induced melanoma can occur following a single high dose (equivalent to burning in adults) to transgenic mice (hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor or TPras) during the neonatal period, the early modulating events which lead to suppression may be relevant for the development of UV radiation-induced human melanoma. Any attempt to produce effective melanoma immunotherapy has to accommodate and overcome these barriers. Margaret Kripke’s pioneering work on UV-induced immunosuppression still remains central to the understanding of the development of melanoma and how it frequently escapes the immune system.