Non-invasive diffuse reflectance measurements of cutaneous melanin content can predict human sensitivity to ultraviolet radiation

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The diversity of human skin phenotypes and the ubiquitous exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) underscore the need for a non-invasive tool to predict an individual's UVR sensitivity. We analysed correlations between UVR sensitivity, melanin content, diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DR) and UVR-induced DNA damage in the skin of subjects from three racial/ethnic groups: Asian, Black or African American and White. UVR sensitivity was determined by evaluating each subject's response to one minimal erythemal dose (MED) of UVR one day after the exposure. Melanin content was measured using DR and by densitometric analysis of Fontana-Masson staining (FM) in skin biopsies taken from unexposed areas. An individual's UVR sensitivity based on MED was highly correlated with melanin content measured by DR and by FM. Therefore, a predictive model for the non-invasive determination of UVR sensitivity using DR was developed. The MED precision was further improved when we took race/ethnicity into consideration. The use of DR serves as a tool for predicting UVR sensitivity in humans that should be invaluable for determining appropriate UVR doses for therapeutic, diagnostic and/or cosmetic devices.

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