Subcell Biochem. 2012;56:181-97.
Williams JD, Jacobson EL, Kim H, Kim M, Jacobson MK.
Division of Medicinal Chemistry, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy and Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA, williams at pharmacy.arizona.edu.
Skin, the largest, most exposed organ of the body, provides a protective interface between humans and the environment. One of its primary roles is protection against exposure to sunlight, a major source of skin damage where the UV radiation (UVR) component functions as a complete carcinogen. Melanin pigmentation and the evolution of dark skin is an adaptive protective mechanism against high levels of UVR exposure.
Recently, the hypothesis that skin pigmentation balances folate preservation and Vitamin D production has emerged.
Both micronutrients are essential for reproductive success.
Photodegradation of bioactive folates suggests a mechanism for the increased tendency of populations of low melanin pigmentation residing in areas of high UV exposure to develop skin cancers.
Folate is proposed as a cancer prevention target for its role in providing precursors for DNA repair and replication, as well as its ability to promote genomic integrity through the generation of methyl groups needed for control of gene expression. The cancer prevention potential of folate has been demonstrated by large-scale epidemiological and nutritional studies indicating that decreased folate status increases the risk of developing certain cancers. While folate deficiency has been extensively documented by analysis of human plasma, folate status within skin has not been widely investigated. Nevertheless, inefficient delivery of micronutrients to skin and photolysis of folate argue that documented folate deficiencies will be present if not exacerbated in skin. Our studies indicate a critical role for folate in skin and the potential to protect sun exposed skin by effective topical delivery as a strategy for cancer prevention.
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