Adaptive antioxidant response of manganese-superoxide dismutase following repetitive UVA irradiation

J Invest Dermatol. 1999 Jan;112(1):13-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.1999.00465.x.


In response to the attack of reactive oxygen species, the skin has developed a complex antioxidant defense system including among others the manganese-superoxide dismutase (MnSOD). MnSOD dismutates the superoxide anion (O2*-) derived from the reduction of molecular oxygen to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which is detoxified by glutathione peroxidase to water and molecular oxygen. We have addressed the question whether MnSOD is inducible upon UVA irradiation and whether repetitive UV exposure, as practiced for the light-hardening during phototherapy of various photodermatoses, can even enhance the adaptive antioxidant response. Single exposure of four different strains of fibroblasts to UVA irradiation resulted in a dose- and time-dependent increase in specific MnSOD mRNA levels. Interestingly, repetitive UVA exposure at days 1, 2, and 3 at a dose rate of 200 kJ per m2 resulted in a 5-fold induction of specific MnSOD mRNA levels following the third UVA exposure. Similar results were obtained for MnSOD activity. This adaptive response in terms of upregulation of the antioxidant enzyme MnSOD correlates with the protection against high UV doses, if cells were preexposed to sublethal UV doses. Importantly, MnSOD substantially differed between the tested individuals in both mRNA and activity levels. Taken together, we here provide evidence for the increasing induction of MnSOD upon repetitive UVA irradiation that may contribute to the effective adaptive UVA response of the skin during light hardening in phototherapy. Interindividual differences in the inducibility of MnSOD might account for differences in the susceptibility to develop photodermatologic disorders related to photosensitivity, photoaging, and skin cancer. The molecular basis for interindividual differences in the inducibility of antioxidant enzymes remains to be elucidated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Enzyme Induction / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Skin / enzymology
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / biosynthesis*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase / radiation effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Antioxidants
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Superoxide Dismutase