Effects of low-dose ultraviolet radiation on in vivo human cutaneous recall responses

Australas J Dermatol. 2001 Aug;42(3):161-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-0960.2001.00507.x.


Relatively few studies have examined the effects of low-dose ultraviolet (UV) radiation on in vivo human cutaneous immunity, or the ability of sunscreens to prevent UV-induced immunosuppression. We have studied the effects of solar-simulated UV radiation on nickel contact hypersensitivity (CHS) in nickel-allergic volunteers, and on delayed type hypersensitivity responses in Mantoux-positive volunteers. Nickel CHS and Mantoux responses were significantly suppressed by acute, suberythemal UV exposures equivalent to less than 8 min summer sunlight. Both UVA and UVB wavebands were immunosuppressive, but UVA-induced immunosuppression was transient, whereas UVB had a more sustained effect. Dose-responses for UV immunosuppression were determined using the nickel method, enabling calculation of in vivo sunscreen immune protection factors in a manner analogous with sun protection factor measurement. Sunscreens were found to confer significantly less protection against UV-induced immunosuppression than against UV-induced erythema.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / immunology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Nickel / immunology
  • Skin / immunology*
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Skin Tests
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use
  • Tuberculin / immunology
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Allergens
  • Sunscreening Agents
  • Tuberculin
  • Nickel