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Researchers discover how the sun damages the skin

Researchers discover how the sun damages the skin

Binghamton University Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Guy K. German oversaw the study. Credit: Binghamton University, New York State University

Researchers at Binghamton University, New York State University have discovered the mechanism by which the sun's ultraviolet radiation damages our skin.

What ultraviolet radiation is the worst for our skin? And how exactly does the sun damage it? These two questions are at the heart of Zahari V.'s new study. Lipsky, Doctor of Biomedical Engineering. candidate at Binghamton University. The study was supervised by Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Guy German.

"The cosmetics industry is a huge multi-billion dollar business, and they are all trying different things to add their sunscreen to make them better in skin protection," the German said. "To date, however, there have been many studies of skin damage, but none that properly see how UV affects the mechanical integrity of the skin."

Ultraviolet radiation – which the human eye cannot see – falls into four categories depending on the wavelength and photon energy. Previous studies have shown how each type of UV radiation penetrates different depths of skin and that prolonged exposure can lead to skin cancer, but exactly how it damages human skin in other ways has received less attention. Cosmetics researchers have been debating for years whether UVA is worse than UVB for causing photoaging, leading to the early appearance of wrinkles and increased tissue fragility.

The Binghamton study used female breast samples – selected because they are usually only exposed to low levels of sunlight – that were subjected to different wavelengths of UV radiation. What the Lipsky and the Germans have discovered is that no UV range is harmed by another – instead, damage scales with the amount of UV-energy that absorbs the skin. A more significant finding, however, is the mechanism of how UV actually damages the skin. The study shows that UV weakens the connections between the cells in the stratum corneum – the upper layer of the skin – by affecting the proteins in the cornea that help the cells to stick together. Therefore, sunbathing results in peeling of the skin.

"What we noticed when we applied more and more UV radiation is that the scattering of these coronodosomes is increasing," Lipsky said. "They should be these nice little different points that surround the cells, but with more radiation, they essentially look exploded, moving away from their position. We conclude that because of the disruption of these coronodosomes, it damages the structural integrity of the skin."

Based on the findings of this study, Lipsky and the German do further research on how UV radiation affects the deeper layers of the skin.

As those experiments continue, Lipsky said the most important stay so far is that skin protection is important no matter what season of the year.

"We are trying to squeeze the message of using sunscreen not only to prevent skin cancer, but also to maintain the integrity of your skin so you don't get infections or other problems," he said.

"The stratum corneum is the first barrier to the external environment, so we need to protect it from all these different bacteria and nasty things that can get into our bodies."

The study "Ultraviolet light degrades the mechanical and structural properties of human stratum corneum," was published in the Journal of Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials.

How to protect yourself from short and long term sun damage

More info:
Zahari V. Lipsky et al, Ultraviolet light degrades the mechanical and structural properties of the human layer of corium, Journal of Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials (2019). DOI: 10.1016 / j.jmbbm.2019.103391

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Binghamton University

Researchers discover how sun damages our skin (2019, 22.08)
Retrieved August 22, 2019
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