Journal of photochemistry and photobiology. B, Biology

Mitochondrial tolerance to single and repeat exposure to simulated sunlight in human epidermal and dermal skin cells.

PMID 27838483


Sunlight represents the primary threat to mitochondrial integrity in skin given the unique nature of the mitochondrial genome and its proximity to the electron transport chain. The accumulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations is a key factor in many human pathologies and this is linked to key roles of mitochondrial function in terms of energy production and cell regulation. The main objective of this study was to evaluate solar radiation induced changes in mitochondrial integrity, function and dynamics in human skin cells using a Q-Sun solar simulator to deliver a close match to the intensity of summer sunlight. Spontaneously immortalised human skin epidermal keratinocytes (HaCaT) and Human Dermal Fibroblasts (HDFn) were divided into two groups. Group A were irradiated once and Group B twice 7days apart and evaluated using cell survival, viability and mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP) and mass at 1, 4 and 7days post one exposure for Group A and 1, 4, 7 and 14days post second exposure for Group B. Viability and survival of HaCaT and HDFn cells decreased after repeat exposure to Simulated Sunlight Irradiation (SSI) with no recovery. HDFn cells showed no loss in MMP after one or two exposures to SSI compared to HaCaT cells which showed a periodic loss of MMP after one exposure with a repeat exposure causing a dramatic decrease from which cells did not recover. Mitochondrial Mass in exposed HDFn cells was consistent with control after one or two exposures to SSI; however mitochondrial mass was significantly decreased in HaCaT cells. Data presented here suggests that mitochondria in epidermal cells are more sensitive to sunlight damage compared to mitochondria in dermal cells, despite their origin, confirming a skin layer specific sensitivity to sunlight, but not as expected.

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Tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester perchlorate, ≥95%