Pathways involved in sunburn cell formation: deregulation in skin cancer

Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2006 Feb;5(2):199-207. doi: 10.1039/b504970a. Epub 2005 Sep 5.


The incidence of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is rising worldwide for decades. Chronic exposure to sunlight is the most important environmental risk factor for this type of skin cancer. This is predominantly due to the DNA damaging effect of ultraviolet-B (UVB) in sunlight. UVB induces also sunburn cells, i.e. apoptotic keratinocytes, which is a crucial protective mechanism against the carcinogenic effects of UVB irradiation. This process is regulated by a wide range of molecular determinants involved in the balance between pro- and anti-apoptotic pathways. Growing evidence suggests that the deregulation of this balance by chronic UVB irradiation, contributes to the development of skin cancer. This review gives a brief summary of major known pathways involved in the regulation of keratinocyte survival and cell death upon UVB damage and discusses the contribution of the deregulation of these cascades to photocarcinogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / radiation effects
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*
  • Keratinocytes / radiation effects
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*