Topical application of cosmetic products, containing ultraviolet filters (UV filters) are recommended as a protection against sunburns and in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer. However, some UV filters can be absorbed through skin and by consuming contaminated food. Among the chemical UV filters, benzophenone-3 (BP-3), 3-(4-methylbenzylidene)camphor (4-MBC) and 2-ethylhexyl-4-methoxycinnamate (OMC) are absorbed through the skin to the greatest extent. So far, these lipophilic compounds were demonstrated to influence the gonadal and thyroid hormone function, but their effect on central nervous system cells has not been investigated, yet.
In the present study, we investigated the effect of some UV filters on cell viability and caspase-3 activity in SH-SY5Y cells. It has been found that benzophenone-2 (BP-2), BP-3, 4-methylbenzophenone (4-MBP) and OMC present in the culture medium for 72 h in high concentration (10−5 and 10−4 M) and 4-MBC only 10−4 M produced a significant cytotoxic effect, as determined both by the MTT reduction test and LDH release assay. In contrast to necrotic changes, all tested UV filters increased caspase-3 activity in much lower concentrations (from 10−8 to 10−7 M). Proapoptotic properties of the test compounds were positively verified by Hoechst staining.
The obtained results indicated that UV filters adversely affected the viability of nerve cells, most likely by enhancing the process of apoptosis. The most potent effect was exerted by BP-3 and 4-MBC and at concentrations that may be reached in vivo. Since human exposure to UV filters is significant these compound should be taken into consideration as one of the possible factors involved in pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases.