Ultraviolet-radiation suppresses cell-mediated immunity in healthy humans. It has been postulated that, in the short term, this immunosuppression prevents autoimmune responses to ultraviolet-radiation damaged skin. Patients with polymorphic light eruption (PLE) demonstrate abnormal responses to ultraviolet-radiation suggestive of an immune response to an ultraviolet-radiation-induced antigen.
We investigated whether PLE patients (n=22) were resistant to ultraviolet-radiation-induced immunosuppression compared to skin-type, aged-matched controls (n=23). Groups of patients and controls (six subjects per group) received a single dose of solar-simulated ultraviolet-radiation of either 0, 0.6, 1 or 2 minimal erythema doses (MED). Erythema was quantified using a reflectance meter and all volunteers were sensitised on the irradiated site with dinitrochlorobenzene.
Contact hypersensitivity responses (CHS) to dinitrochlorobenzene were quantified after challenge using ultrasound. Ultraviolet-radiation-induced erythema was comparable in patients and controls. CHS was comparable in unirradiated patients and controls. UVR-induced a dose-dependent suppression of CHS in all volunteers but patients were more resistant to immunosuppression after 1MED.
Exposure to 1MED suppressed CHS by 78% in controls but induced less suppression in patients (44%, p < 0.01). Our data suggest that PLE patients have a flaw in their immunoregulatory response to ultraviolet-radiation it is only apparent over a narrow dose range around 1 MED.
Van de Pas, C.B., Kelly, D.A., Seed, P.T., Young, A.R., Hawk, J.L. and Walker, S.L., 2004. Ultraviolet-radiation-induced erythema and suppression of contact hypersensitivity responses in patients with polymorphic light eruption. Journal of investigative dermatology, 122(2), pp.295-299.
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