Polyphenols are a large family of naturally occurring plant products and are widely distributed in plant foods, such as, fruits, vegetables, nuts, flowers, bark and seeds, etc. These polyphenols contribute to the beneficial health effects of dietary products. Clinical and epidemiological studies suggest that exposure of the skin to environmental factors/pollutants, such as solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation induce harmful effects and leads to various skin diseases including the risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. The incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer, comprising of squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, is a significant public health concern world-wide. Exposure of the skin to solar UV radiation results in inflammation, oxidative stress, DNA damage, dysregulation of cellular signaling pathways and immunosuppression thereby resulting in skin cancer. The regular intake of natural plant products, especially polyphenols, which are widely present in fruits, vegetables, dry legumes and beverages have gained considerable attention as protective agents against the adverse effects of UV radiation. In this article, we first discussed the impact of polyphenols on human health based on their structure-activity relationship and bioavailability. We then discussed in detail the photoprotective effects of some selected polyphenols on UV-induced skin inflammation, proliferation, immunosuppression, DNA damage and dysregulation of important cellular signaling pathways and their implications in skin cancer management. The selected polyphenols include: green tea polyphenols, pomegranate fruit extract, grape seed proanthocyanidins, resveratrol, silymarin, genistein and delphinidin. The new information on the mechanisms of action of these polyphenols supports their potential use in skin photoprotection and prevention of photocarcinogenesis in humans.
photoprotection, Polyphenols, photocarcinogenesis, proliferation, skin cancer, inflammation, immunosuppression, DNA repair, cellular signaling pathway, reactive oxygen species, ultraviolet radiation
Department of Dermatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1670 University Boulevard, Volker Hall 557, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA.