Free radical reduction in the human epidermis.


Schallreuter KU, Wood JM.




Free Radic Biol Med


The human epidermis presents the first line of defense against invading free radicals. Therefore, the surface of the skin must be equipped to deal with both the penetration of ultra-violet light as well as the neutralization of reactive photochemical products such as superoxide anion radical, hydrogen peroxide and especially hydroxyl radicals. Consequently, the human epidermis contains a variety of anti-oxidants to reduce oxygen radicals and hydrogen peroxide. The photochemical production of hydroxyl radicals, from both extracellular and intracellular hydrogen peroxide, is of special significance to the integrity of cells in the human epidermis. Recently, both biochemical and clinical studies on the healthy human population, and on patients with pigmentation disorders, suggested a connection between free radical defense by plasma membrane associated thioredoxin reductase and melanin biosynthesis. This research provided the first evidence for a direct relationship between free radical concentration and pigmentation. Furthermore, this system has been shown to be regulated by both extracellular and intracellular calcium concentrations. Clinical studies show depigmentation disorders vitiligo and tyrosinase positive albinism (Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome) appear to have defective calcium uptake systems influencing both free radical defense and melanin biosynthesis.

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