Background: An extract of the tropical fern Polypodium leucotomos (PL) administered orally to mice inhibits ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation-induced skin cancer formation. UVB-induced murine skin cancers occur, in part, because of UVB-induced immunosuppression. Thus, we examined whether PL inhibits UVB-suppression of the induction of contact hypersensitivity (CHS) locally or systemically.
Methods: C57BL/6 mice received standard drinking water or water-containing PL. In the local model, mice were shaved on the dorsum and exposed to 3500 J/m(2) of UVB radiation daily for 4 days. Control mice were not irradiated. After the last irradiation they were sensitized to oxazolone topically at the irradiated site. To examine the ability of PL to inhibit systemic UVB-induced immunosuppression, mice were given 10,000 J/m(2) of UVB radiation once and immunized at a non-exposed site 3 days later. Six days after immunization (in both models), mice were challenged on the ears with oxazolone and 24/48 h ear swelling assessed.
Results: PL in drinking water significantly reduced the inhibition of CHS observed with exposure to UVB radiation in both the local and systemic models.
Conclusions: The ability of PL to inhibit UVB radiation-induced immune suppression may explain, in part, its ability to inhibit UVR-induced skin cancer induction in mice.