Combined effect of Benzophenone-2 and ultraviolet radiation promote photogenotoxicity and photocytotoxicity in human keratinocytes

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2018 Jun;95:298-306. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2018.04.003. Epub 2018 Apr 4.


Benzophenone-2 (BP2), a common ingredient of sunscreens formulation is widely used as UV filter. We have assessed the photogenotoxic and photocytotoxic potential of BP2. Photostability test showed that BP2 is unstable under UV exposure. Cell proliferation assay revealed that viability of HaCaT cells significantly reduced under UVA, UVB and sunlight exposure. DCF fluorescence intensity proved intracellular ROS generation capacity of BP2 under sunlight, UVA and UVB irradiation. Photodynamic degradation of guanine base of DNA is promoted by BP2 under UV treatment. Genotoxicity assessed by comet assay, showed that photosensitized BP2 enhanced DNA damage, which is measured in term of % tail DNA and olive tail moment. Genotoxic potential of BP2 was further validated with photomicronuclei assay. Photogenotoxicity of BP2 was lastly confirmed by formation of CPDs (Cyclo butane pyrimidine dimmers). DNA damage induced by BP2 was irreversible and extended incubation periods (6-12 h) not favored the recovery from damaged DNA. JC 1 staining showed significant reduction in mitochondrial membrane potential. Membrane integrity compromisation of HaCaT cells was established by AO (Acridine orange), EtBr (Ethidium bromide) staining and confirmed with sub G1 population of cell cycle. Thus, results suggest that BP2 should be avoided in topical application for safe sunscreen practices.

Keywords: Benzophenone-2; CPDs; DNA damage; Photogenotoxicity; Phototoxicity; Sunscreens; UV-radiation.

MeSH terms

  • Benzophenones / toxicity*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / radiation effects
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA Damage
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects*
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / radiation effects*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Benzophenones
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • 2,2',4,4'-tetrahydroxybenzophenone