Photooxidative Damage and Skin Cancer

The unique environment of the Southwest involves extraordinarily high levels of ultraviolet light exposure, leading to degenerative conditions in skin and to skin cancer. Center investigators are studying how environmental factors and micronutrients modulate UV damage.

  • Folate is an essential micronutrient that is responsible for synthesizing DNA, repairing damaged DNA and helping produce and maintain cells.
  • RFG 3 is using a cell culture model to test folate as a chemopreventive agent (a substance that prevents or delays the development of cancer).Scientists have closely looked at all seven Sirtuins (proteins involved in gene expression and cell survival) and have found that their activity is irregular when the skin is exposed to UV light.Sirtuin activity is adjusted by Niacin, an essential vitamin that has demonstrated properties that deter UV skin damage.
  • These findings could provide information for developing treatments that prevent skin damage and skin cancer.

Key Research Highlights

In the desert southwest, the sun is a very unforgiving foe to skin.  The UV light that the sun generates leads to reactive oxidative species in skin that can eventually lead to cancer.  RFG 3 researchers are studying how UV light exposure and micronutrients like folate and niacin can act as a protective agent against cell damage in skin.