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Ultraviolet Radiation-Induced Production of Nitric Oxide:A multi-cell and multi-donor analysis

Publication date: 

11 Sep 2017




Graham Holliman, Donna Lowe, Howard Cohen, Sarah Felton & Ken Raj

Publication type: 



Increasing evidence regarding positive effects of exposure to sunlight has led to suggestions that current advice may be overly weighted in favour of avoidance. UV-A has been reported to lower blood pressure, possibly through nitric oxide (NO) production in skin. Here, we set out to investigate effects of UV-A and solar-simulated radiation on the potential source of dermal NO, the effective doses and wavelengths, the responsiveness of different human skin cells, the magnitude of inter-individual differences and the potential influence of age. We utilised isogenic keratinocytes, microvascular endothelial cells, melanocytes and fibroblasts isolated from 36 human skins ranging from neonates to 86 years old. We show that keratinocytes and microvascular endothelial cells show greatest NO release following biologically relevant doses of UV-A. This was consistent across multiple neonatal donors and the effect is maintained in adult keratinocytes. Our observations are consistent with a bi-phasic mechanism by which UV-A can trigger vasodilatory effects. Analyses of NO-production spectra adds further evidence that nitrites in skin cells are the source of UV-mediated NO release. These potentially positive effects of ultraviolet radiation lend support for objective assessment of environmental influence on human health and the idea of “healthy sun exposure”.