Immunologic Protection Afforded by Sunscreens.

11 November 1997


Several studies have suggested a lack of correlation between sunscreen sun protection factor and protection of skin immune system, potentially allowing greater damage to the skin by removing the natural protective erythemal response to sun exposure. Despite this, routine testing of immune protection afforded by sunscreens is not performed by industry.

Current laboratory methods for investigating the efficacy of sunscreen protection of epidermal immune function use the induction of contact hypersensitivity or epidermal cell alloantigen presentation. Animal models, cell culture systems, an in vivo human studies are commonly employed, but all these systems have significant draw backs for use in routine testing. 

The purpose of this study was to develop an in vitro system for testing the immunologic protection afforded by sunscreens in human skin. Five test sunscreens plus a vehicle control were tested in a "blind" fashion for their in vitro level of immune protection. Creams were applied in a standard manner to human whole skin explants and were irradiated over a range of physiologic doses using a solar simulator.

Results consistently demonstrated that all the test sunscreens protected beyond their designated sun protection factors, whereas the vehicle conferred no protection. The explant-mixed epidermal lymphocyte reaction system gave consistent, reproducible results and may prove useful for the allocation of an immune protection factor to all sunscreens.


Davenport, V., Morris, J.F. and Chu, A.C., Immunologic Protection Afforded by Sunscreens.

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Category: Cosmetics & Sun Protection

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