A chemiluminescence study of UVA-induced oxidative stress in human skin in vivo

J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Apr;122(4):1020-9. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-202X.2004.22405.x.


Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between pro-oxidants and antioxidants in favor of pro-oxidants. Photon emission (also called chemiluminescence) has been widely used to study oxidative stress in biological systems in vitro. In vivo chemiluminescence has been proposed as a non-invasive method to assess oxidative stress in the skin. UVA (320-400 nm part of the ultraviolet radiation) exposure is generally accepted as a source of oxidative stress in the skin. In this study, UVA-induced oxidative stress was studied by using an in vivo chemiluminescence detection method. First, the dose response and the fluence rate response of the UVA-induced oxidative stress in human skin were investigated by examining the decay kinetics of the chemiluminescence signal following UVA exposure. A kinetic model was proposed to help differentiate these two responses. We found that the initial burst of the chemiluminescence signal depended on the UVA fluence rate, whereas the decay of the signal following exposure can be related to the UVA dose involved. Second, a significant reduction of UVA-induced chemiluminescence signal was observed after tape-stripping, indicating that stratum corneum is a major source of UVA-induced oxidative stress in the skin. Furthermore, the oxygen dependence of UVA-induced chemiluminescence signal was also confirmed by application of a pressure cuff, implying that some of the oxidative stress occurs in the deeper layers of the skin. Finally, topical application of vitamin C before exposure significantly reduced the UVA-induced chemiluminescence signal. We thus conclude that chemiluminescence is an effective method to assess the oxidative stress induced by UVA in human skin in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Oxygen