Effects of solar radiation on the human immune system

J Photochem Photobiol B. 2001 Oct;63(1-3):28-40. doi: 10.1016/s1011-1344(01)00200-7.


On UV irradiation of the skin, a complex cascade of immunological changes results, initiated by cutaneous chromophores and ending in suppression of some local and systemic immune responses. In this review, the stages in this process are outlined first, concentrating on the roles of DNA and urocanic acid as photoreceptors. Evidence indicating UV-induced immunomodulation of delayed hypersensitivity and resistance to infectious diseases in human subjects follows. Aspects of genetic susceptibility to the immunosuppressive effects of UV exposure and extrapolation of the data obtained in animal models to the human situation are included. Finally uncertain and unknown factors relating to the impact of UV on the human immune system are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Communicable Diseases
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology
  • Immune System / radiation effects*
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunity / radiation effects
  • Solar Activity
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects