Relationship between skin response to ultraviolet exposure and skin color type

Pigment Cell Res. 2006 Dec;19(6):606-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0749.2006.00338.x.


Sun exposure is responsible for detrimental damage ranging from sunburn to photoaging and skin cancer. This damage is likely to be influenced by constitutive pigmentation. The relationship between ultraviolet (UV) sensitivity and skin color type was analyzed on 42 ex vivo skin samples objectively classified from light to dark skin, based on their values of individual typology angle (ITA) determined by colorimetric parameters. The biologically efficient dose (BED) was determined for each sample by quantifying sunburn cells after exposure to increasing doses of UV solar-simulated radiation. Typical UV-induced biologic markers, other than erythema, such as DNA damage, apoptosis and p53 accumulation, were analyzed. A statistically significant correlation was found between ITA and BED and, ITA and DNA damage. Interestingly, DNA lesions were distributed throughout the whole epidermal layers and the uppermost dermal cells in light, intermediate and tanned skin while they were restricted to suprabasal epidermal layers in brown or dark skin. Our data support, at the cellular level, the relationship between UV sensitivity and skin color type. They emphasize the impact of DNA damage accumulation in basal layer in relation to the prevalence of skin cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / radiation effects
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • DNA Damage / radiation effects
  • Dermis / physiology
  • Dermis / radiation effects
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Epidermis / radiation effects
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / radiation effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Skin Pigmentation / physiology
  • Skin Pigmentation / radiation effects*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / radiation effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Biomarkers
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53