New Sunscreens Could Protect Mitochondria From Ultraviolet Light Interview with:

AP Commercial Photography C. Pourzand, MSc, MPhil, PhD/DSc Senior lecturer and Associate Professor in Biopharmaceutics Department of Pharmcay and Pharmacology University of Bath Bath, United Kingdom

Dr. Charareh Pourzand

Charareh Pourzand, MSc, MPhil, PhD/DSc
Senior lecturer and Associate Professor in Biopharmaceutics
Department of Pharmcay and Pharmacology
University of Bath
Bath United Kingdom What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Exposure of skin cells to Ultraviolet A (UVA) component of sunlight provokes oxidative damage to the vital subcellular organelles, mitochondria, leading to ATP depletion and necrotic cell death.

The presence of high level of potentially harmful ‘labile’ iron in mitochondria is thought to make these organelles highly susceptible to oxidative damage caused by UVA. Therefore, we designed a highly specific iron trapping compound that could directly target mitochondria and protect the organelles against UVA-induced iron damage and the ensuing cell death. The results of the study demonstrate an unprecedented level of protection afforded by these compounds against damage caused by high doses of solar UVA radiation, equivalent to up to 140 min sun exposure at sea level. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The design and evaluation of this mitochondria-targeted iron chelator provides the first example of powerful organelle-targeted photoprotectants against UVA component of sunlight. At present, sunscreen formulations lack effective protection against skin damage caused by UVA component of sunlight. Such photoprotective compounds that tackle specifically one of the main cause of UVA-induced damage in the skin may be used in the near future as effective UVA-photoprotectant ingredient in sunscreen formulations. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Current sunscreen formulations provide more protection against shorter UVB component of sunlight than longer UVA. As a result, there is a clear need to develop sunscreen ingredients that are more effective against UVA component of sunlight. The iron-catalysed oxidative damage caused by UVA appears to be a key factor in photoaging and the initiation of skin cancer. Furthermore, mitochondrial labile iron appears to be the key intermediate to induce irreversible damage in the skin following UVA exposure. As a result, the design of highly specific mitochondria-targeted iron chelating compounds that mop the potentially harmful labile iron of these organelles should be the focus of future photoprotective compounds against sunlight damage. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Such mitochondria-targeted iron chelators may also pave the way for the design of therapeutic compounds for mitochondria iron overload diseases such as Friedreich’s ataxia. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


J Invest Dermatol. 2016 Apr 22. pii: S0022-202X(16)31053-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2016.03.041. [Epub ahead of print]
A Powerful Mitochondria-Targeted Iron Chelator Affords High Photoprotection against Solar Ultraviolet A Radiation.
Reelfs O1, Abbate V2, Hider RC2, Pourzand C3.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on July 22, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD