Sulforaphane mobilizes cellular defenses that protect skin against damage by UV radiation

Paul Talalay (Lead / Corresponding author), Jed W. Fahey, Zachary R. Healy, Scott L. Wehage, Andrea L. Benedict, Christine Min, Albena T. Dinkova-Kostova

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    177 Citations (Scopus)


    UV radiation (UVR) is a complete carcinogen that elicits a constellation of pathological events, including direct DNA damage, generation of reactive oxidants that peroxidize lipids and damage other cellular components, initiation of inflammation, and suppression of the immune response. Recent dramatic increases in the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancers are largely attributable to higher exposure of an aging population to UVR. Therefore, the development of cellular strategies for intrinsic protection of the skin against the deleterious effects of UVR is imperative. Here we show that erythema resulting from UVR is a comprehensive and noninvasive biomarker for assessing UVR damage and can be precisely and easily quantified in human skin. Topical application of sulforaphane-rich extracts of 3-day-old broccoli sprouts upregulated phase 2 enzymes in the mouse and human skin, protected against UVR-induced inflammation and edema in mice, and reduced susceptibility to erythema arising from narrow-band 311-nm UVR in humans. In six human subjects (three males and three females, 28-53 years of age), the mean reduction in erythema across six doses of UVR (300-800 mJ/cm2 in 100 mJ/cm2 increments) was 37.7% (range 8.37-78.1%; P = 0.025). This protection against a carcinogen in humans is catalytic and long lasting.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17500-17505
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number44
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2007


    • Chemoprotection
    • Erythema
    • Nicotinamide:quinone oxidoreductase 1
    • Skin tumor

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Genetics
    • General


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