Solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation, particularly its UVB (290-320 nm) component, is the primary cause of many adverse biological effects including photoageing and skin cancer. UVB radiation causes DNA damage, protein oxidation and induces matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Photochemoprevention via the use of botanical antioxidants in affording protection to human skin against UVB damage is receiving increasing attention. Pomegranate, from the tree Punica granatum, contains anthocyanins and hydrolysable tannins and possesses strong antioxidant and anti-tumor-promoting properties. In this study, we determined the effect of pomegranate-derived products--POMx juice, POMx extract and pomegranate oil (POMo)--against UVB-mediated damage using reconstituted human skin (EpiDerm(TM) FT-200). EpiDerm was treated with POMx juice (1-2 microl/0.1 ml/well), POMx extract (5-10 microg/0.1 ml/well) and POMo (1-2 microl/0.1 ml/well) for 1 h prior to UVB (60 mJ/cm(2)) irradiation and was harvested 12 h post-UVB to assess protein oxidation, markers of DNA damage and photoageing by Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry. Pretreatment of Epiderm with pomegranate-derived products resulted in inhibition of UVB-induced (i) cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPD), (ii) 8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG), (iii) protein oxidation and (iv) proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) protein expression. We also found that pretreatment of Epiderm with pomegranate-derived products resulted in inhibition of UVB-induced (i) collagenase (MMP-1), (ii) gelatinase (MMP-2, MMP-9), (iii) stromelysin (MMP-3), (iv) marilysin (MMP-7), (v) elastase (MMP-12) and (vi) tropoelastin. Gelatin zymography revealed that pomegranate-derived products inhibited UVB-induced MMP-2 and MMP-9 activities. Pomegranate-derived products also caused a decrease in UVB-induced protein expression of c-Fos and phosphorylation of c-Jun. Collectively, these results suggest that all three pomegranate-derived products may be useful against UVB-induced damage to human skin.