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Sunbathing: UV rays dampen our immune system

Enjoying the sun only in moderation: Damage to health due to UV radiation

Although it has cooled down a bit at the moment, in just a few days summer temperatures will again be prevailing in some regions of Germany. Then it is important to protect yourself as well as possible against the aggressive sun rays. Because UV radiation can lead to serious damage to health.

Most important risk factor for skin cancer

Although the summer has just passed, it is only recently that an official warning has been issued for large parts of Germany because of high UV intensity. In this context, it was pointed out that the best possible protection against the intense sun rays. After all, UV radiation is considered the most important risk factor for skin cancer. In addition, these rays affect the immune system.

 Yellow parasol from below with a view to the blue sky
Especially in midsummer, the sun should only be protected and enjoyed in moderation. Because UV radiation threatens acute or chronic damage to health. (Photo: grafxart / fotolia.com)

Acute or chronic damage to health is imminent

Warm sunbeams invite you to stay outdoors. However, especially in midsummer, the sun should only be protected and enjoyed in moderation.

As the Medical University of Graz states in a statement, ultraviolet radiation is contained in the short-wave solar radiation and, among other things, fulfills important functions for the metabolism. [19659009] However, UV radiation also threatens acute or chronic damage to health.

Researchers at MedUni Graz have now investigated the influence of UV radiation on the interaction of the microbiome of the skin and the immune system.

The journal "iScience "Published study results show the role of the microbiome under the influence of UV radiation in the development of skin cancer plays.

It depends on the amount of

UV rays have an important function, inter alia, for the metabolism, because they Helping the body to produce vitamin D.

This vitamin then provides for the bones, for example However, it also applies here as it often does – it depends on the amount, as an overdose harms the health and acute damage, such as sunburn, as well as chronic damage such as skin cancer

"UV radiation suppresses the skin's immune system, so it has an immunosuppressant effect. This creates a certain immune deficiency, which plays an important role in the development of skin cancer, "explains Univ.-Prof. Dr. Peter Wolf from the Department of Dermatology and Venereology of the Medical University of Graz.

As the experts explain, the extent of UV suppressive immune system suppression can be visualized using a contact allergy model.

Vijaykumar Patra, PhD member of the working group by Peter Wolf – used the contact allergy model for his scientific work.

In collaboration with the Karolinka Institutet, Stockholm, the research group around Peter Wolf was able to show the effect of UV rays on the microbiome of the skin and subsequently on the immune system

Influence of UV radiation on the microbiome of the skin

In their work, the scientists found that the microbiome of the skin – the totality of the microorganisms that colonize the skin – is present the immunosuppressive effect of UV B radiation protects.

"In the laboratory model, we were able to clearly establish that the immune response to UVB radiation of a model with an intact microbiome clearly differs from that of a model without a microbiome," explains Wolf.

Radiation causes the microbiome on the skin a condition that promotes inflammatory processes, while in the skin without microbiome results in a more immunosuppressive environment, so that the immune system is no longer working in full.

"This condition is mainly due to the increased expression of Interleukin 10, a messenger substance of the immune system, "says Wolf.

For example, disinfecting the skin with an antiseptic leads to more immunosuppression after exposure to UV radiation. The skin can no longer adequately protect itself through the no longer intact microbiome.

According to the statement, the research results clearly demonstrate the change in the effect of the microbiome on the immune system under the influence of UV radiation. [19659009] The research results are of far-reaching importance, especially as the influence of the microbiome by skin care products, disinfectants, etc., could direct the immune response to UV radiation in one direction or another, the experts write.


  • Medical University of Graz: Skin protection through the microbiome: Researchers show the connection between UV radiation and the immune system, (Call: 15.07.2019), Medizinische Universität Graz
  • Fachmagazin "IScience": Skin Microbiome Modulates the Effect of Ultraviolet Radiation on Cellular Response and Immune Function, (Retrieved: 15.07.2019), iScience

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