Photoprotective effect of isoflavone genistein on ultraviolet B-induced pyrimidine dimer formation and PCNA expression in human reconstituted skin and its implications in dermatology and prevention of cutaneous carcinogenesis

Carcinogenesis. 2006 Aug;27(8):1627-35. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgi367. Epub 2006 Mar 7.


Genistein, the most abundant isoflavone of the soy derived phytoestrogen compounds, is a potent antioxidant and inhibitor of tyrosine kinase. We previously reported the antiphotocarcinogenic effects of genistein in SKH-1 murine skin, including its capacity for scavenging reactive oxygen species, inhibiting photodynamic DNA damage and downregulating UVB(ultra violet B)-induced signal transduction cascades in carcinogenesis. In this study we elucidate genistein's photoprotective efficacy within the context of full thickness human reconstituted skin relative to acute challenges with ultraviolet-B irradiation. Skin samples were pre-treated with three concentrations of genistein (10, 20 and 50 microM) 1 h prior to UVB radiation at 20 and 60 mJ/cm2. Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and pyrimidine dimer (PD) expression profiles were localized using immunohistochemical analysis on paraffin embedded samples 6 and 12 h post UVB exposure. Genistein dose dependently preserved cutaneous proliferation and repair mechanics at 20 and 60 mJ/cm2, as evidenced by the preservation of proliferating cell populations with increasing genistein concentrations and noticeable paucity in PCNA immunoreactivity in the absence of genistein. Genistein inhibited UV-induced DNA damage, evaluated with PD immunohistochemical expression profiles, demonstrated an inverse relationship with increasing topical genistein concentrations. Irradiation at 20 and 60 mJ/cm2 substantially induced PD formation in the absence of genistein, and a dose dependent inhibition of UVB-induced PD formation was observed relative to increasing genistein concentrations. Collectively all genistein pre-treated samples demonstrated appreciable histologic architectural preservation when compared with untreated specimens. These findings represent a critical link between our animal and cell culture studies with those of human skin and represent the first characterization of the dynamic alterations of UV-induced DNA damage and proliferating cell populations relative to pretreatment with genistein in human reconstituted skin. The implications of our findings serve as compelling validation to our conclusions that genistein may serve as a potent chemopreventive agent against photocarcinogenesis.

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dermatology*
  • Epidermis / drug effects
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Epidermis / radiation effects
  • Genistein / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen / metabolism*
  • Pyrimidine Dimers*
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Skin* / drug effects
  • Skin* / metabolism
  • Skin* / radiation effects
  • Skin, Artificial
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen
  • Pyrimidine Dimers
  • Genistein