Blue-light irradiation regulates proliferation and differentiation in human skin cells

J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Jan;130(1):259-69. doi: 10.1038/jid.2009.194.


Sunlight influences the physiology of the human skin in beneficial as well as harmful ways, as has been shown for UV light. However, little is known about the effects of other wavelengths of solar irradiation. In this study we irradiated human keratinocytes and skin-derived endothelial cells with light-emitting-diode devices of distinct wavelengths to study the effects on cell physiology. We found that light at wavelengths of 632-940 nm has no effect, but irradiation with blue light at 412-426 nm exerts toxic effects at high fluences. Light at 453 nm is nontoxic up to a fluence of 500 J/cm(2). At nontoxic fluences, blue light reduces proliferation dose dependently by up to 50%, which is attributable to differentiation induction as shown by an increase of differentiation markers. Experiments with BSA demonstrate that blue-light irradiation up to 453 nm photolytically generates nitric oxide (NO) from nitrosated proteins, which is known to initiate differentiation in skin cells. Our data provide evidence for a molecular mechanism by which blue light may be effective in treating hyperproliferative skin conditions by reducing proliferation due to the induction of differentiation. We observed a photolytic release of NO from nitrosated proteins, indicating that they are light acceptors and signal transducers up to a wavelength of 453 nm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / radiation effects
  • Cell Division / radiation effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / radiation effects
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Keratinocytes / cytology*
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / radiation effects*
  • Light / adverse effects*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Nitrites / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Sodium Azide / pharmacology
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / radiation effects


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Interleukin-8
  • Nitrites
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Sodium Azide