RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Topical application of alpha-tocopherol modulates the antioxidant network and diminishes ultraviolet-induced oxidative damage in murine skin.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of topical alpha-tocopherol application on epidermal and dermal antioxidants and its ability to prevent ultraviolet (UV)-induced oxidative damage. Hairless mice received topical applications of alpha-tocopherol 24 h before a single, acute UV irradiation (10 x minimal erythemal dose). The four major antioxidant enzymes (catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase), hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidants, and lipid hydroperoxides, markers of oxidative damage, were assayed in both epidermis and dermis of hairless mice. Topical alpha-tocopherol treatment increased dermal superoxide dismutase activity by 30% (P < 0.01) and protected epidermal glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase from depletion after UV irradiation. Total and reduced glutathione levels in the epidermis increased by 50% after the topical treatment (P < 0.05), as did dermal ascorbate levels (by 40%: P < 0.01). The topical treatment increased alpha-tocopherol levels both in the epidermis (62-fold) and the dermis (22-fold: P < 0.001 in each layer). Furthermore, alpha-tocopherol treatment significantly reduced the formation of epidermal lipid hydroperoxides after UV irradiation (P < 0.05). These results demonstrate that topical administration of alpha-tocopherol protects cutaneous tissues against oxidative damage induced by UV irradiation in vivo, and suggest that the underlying mechanism of this effect involves the up-regulation of a network of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants.

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