Background: Excessive human exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) continues
to be a major public health concern, with skin cancer rates increasing year on year. The major protective
measure is the use of synthetic UVR filters formulated into sunscreens, but there is a growing
concern that some of these chemicals cause damage to delicate marine ecosystems. One alternative
is the use of biocompatible mycosporine-like amino acids (MAA), which occur naturally in
a wide range of marine species. Their role within nature is mainly thought to be photoprotective.
However, their potential for human photoprotection is largely understudied.
Objective: To review the role of MAA in nature and assess their potential as natural sunscreens
for human skin photoprotection.
Method: A literature review of all relevant papers was conducted.
Conclusion: MAA are natural photostable compounds that are thought to offer photoprotection
to marine species. Initially thought of as protective based on their absorption properties in the
solar UVR spectrum, it is clear that MAA are multifunctional photoprotective compounds acting
as chemical and biological anti-oxidants. This suggests that MAA may offer a novel eco-friendly
approach to human skin photoprotection. Most studies have been carried out in vitro and current
data strongly suggest that MAA have potential for development as natural biocompatible sunscreens
that protect against a diverse range of solar UVR induced adverse effects on human