Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA repair mechanisms


Epidemiological, clinical and laboratory studies have implicated solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation in various skin diseases including, premature aging of the skin and melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Chronic UV radiation exposure-induced skin diseases or skin disorders are caused by the excessive induction of inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage, etc. The use of chemopreventive agents, such as plant polyphenols, to inhibit these events in UV-exposed skin is gaining attention. Chemoprevention refers to the use of agents that can inhibit, reverse or retard the process of these harmful events in the UV-exposed skin. A wide variety of polyphenols or phytochemicals, most of which are dietary supplements, have been reported to possess substantial skin photoprotective effects. This review article summarizes the photoprotective effects of some selected polyphenols, such as green tea polyphenols, grape seed proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, silymarin and genistein, on UV-induced skin inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage, etc., with a focus on mechanisms underlying the photoprotective effects of these polyphenols. The laboratory studies conducted in animal models suggest that these polyphenols have the ability to protect the skin from the adverse effects of UV radiation, including the risk of skin cancers. It is suggested that polyphenols may favorably supplement sunscreens protection, and may be useful for skin diseases associated with solar UV radiation-induced inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage.

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Fig. 1







Grape seed proanthocyanidins


Green tea polyphenols




Nucleotide excision repair


Nuclear factor-kappaB




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The work reported from Dr Katiyar’s laboratory was supported by the funds from National Institutes of Health (CA104428, AT002536) and Veteran Affairs Merit Review Award (S.K. Katiyar). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the funding sources. Grateful thanks are also due to our former and current colleagues and postdoctoral fellows for their outstanding contributions.

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Correspondence to Santosh K. Katiyar.

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Nichols, J.A., Katiyar, S.K. Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and DNA repair mechanisms. Arch Dermatol Res 302, 71–83 (2010).

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  • Interleukin
  • DNA repair
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammation
  • Polyphenols
  • Ultraviolet radiation
  • Cyclooxygenase-2