Proteins of the extracellular matrix are sensitizers of photo-oxidative stress in human skin cells

Georg T. Wondrak, Michael J. Roberts, Daniel Cervantes-Laurean, Myron K. Jacobson, Elaine L. Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Sensitized production of reactive oxygen species after photo-excitation of endogenous chromophores is thought to contribute to skin photo-oxidative stress. Here we present experimental evidence in support of a potential role of extracellular matrix proteins as skin photosensitizers. Human and bovine type I collagen and elastin sensitized of hydrogen peroxide generation upon irradiation with solar simulated light or ultraviolet A. Induction of intracellular oxidative stress by extracellular matrix-protein sensitization was demonstrated by flow cytometric analysis of fibroblasts preloaded with the intracellular redox dye dihydrorhodamine 123 and exposed to pre-irradiated type I collagen. Pre-irradiated collagen and elastin induced pronounced inhibition of proliferation in cultured keratinocytes and fibroblasts, which was reversed by antioxidant or catalase treatment and reproduced by exposure to concentrations of H2O2 formed during extracellular matrix-protein irradiation. In fibroblasts, chromosomal DNA damage as a consequence of collagen-sensitized H2O2 formation was demonstrated using a single cell electrophoresis assay. The enzymatic cross-links pyridinoline and desmosine were examined as candidate sensitizer chromophores contained in collagen and elastin, respectively. Pyridinoline, but not desmosine, sensitized light-driven H2O2 production and inhibition of fibroblast proliferation. Our results support the hypothesis that extracellular matrix proteins play a functional role in skin photoaging and carcinogenesis by sensitization of photo-oxidative damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)578-586
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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