Neonatal sunburn and melanoma in mice

Nature. 2001 Sep 20;413(6853):271-2. doi: 10.1038/35095108.


Retrospective epidemiological data have indicated that cutaneous malignant melanoma may arise as a consequence of intense, intermittent exposure of the skin to ultraviolet radiation, particularly in children, rather than from the cumulative lifetime exposure that is associated with other forms of skin cancer. Here we use a genetically engineered mouse model to show that a single dose of burning ultraviolet radiation to neonates, but not adults, is necessary and sufficient to induce tumours with high penetrance which are reminiscent of human melanoma. Our results provide experimental support for epidemiological evidence that childhood sunburn poses a significant risk of developing this potentially fatal disease.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Child
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / genetics
  • Humans
  • Melanoma, Experimental / etiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Sunburn / complications*
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor