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Real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis of a 3895-bp mitochondrial DNA deletion in epithelial swabs and its use as a quantitative marker for sunlight exposure in human skin

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andrew Harbottle, Professor Mark Birch-MachinORCiD


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Background The use of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage as a reliable and highly sensitive biomarker of ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure in both the dermis and epidermis has now been well developed by our group and others. We have previously identified a 3895-bp mtDNA deletion which occurred more frequently and to a higher level in usually sun-exposed skin as opposed to occasionally sun-exposed skin. This work focused on older-aged individuals and, in particular, perilesional, histologically normal skin biopsies taken from patients with skin cancer. Objectives To develop novel, less-invasive methods of obtaining skin samples (i.e. epidermis) from volunteers covering a much wider age range and larger number of individuals (n = 239). Methods The 3895-bp deletion was quantified by a specific real-time polymerase chain reaction assay in normal human epidermis samples taken from three body sites with differing sun exposure. Results The results show a statistical increase of the level of the 3895-bp deletion with increasing sun exposure in the epidermal swabs of human skin (P < 0.001) and with increasing age of the donor in the needle biopsy samples. Conclusions These data suggest that the upper layers of the epidermis are an accessible and reliable site for assessing mtDNA damage caused by UV exposure.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harbottle A, Maki J, Reguly B, Wittock R, Robinson K, Parr R, Birch-Machin MA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Dermatology

Year: 2010

Volume: 163

Issue: 6

Pages: 1291-1295

Print publication date: 08/11/2010

ISSN (print): 0007-0963

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2133

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2010.10001.x


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