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Mitochondrial DNA damage as a biomarker for ultraviolet radiation exposure and oxidative stress

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Mark Birch-MachinORCiD, Dr Jennifer Latimer


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The skin is regularly exposed to the harmful effects of sunlight, such as ultraviolet radiation (UVR), which leads to ageing effects as well as clinical precancerous lesions and skin cancer. The accumulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) damage has been strongly associated as an underlying cause of the general ageing process in tissues and mtDNA damage has been associated with cancer development in many tissues including human skin. This scenario is linked to the key roles of mitochondrial function and mtDNA both in terms of energy production and also oxidative stress production as well as a mediator of apoptosis. We and others have pioneered the use of mtDNA damage as a highly sensitive biomarker of UVR exposure and oxidative stress in human skin; furthermore, ageing-dependent mtDNA mutations can be accelerated by exposure to sunlight. In addition, this review will also highlight useful applications of mtDNA as a biomarker of UVR-induced oxidative stress including effects of antioxidants.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Birch-Machin MA, Russell EV, Latimer JA

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Dermatology

Year: 2013

Volume: 169

Issue: Suppl. 2

Pages: 9-14

Print publication date: 01/07/2013

ISSN (print): 0007-0963

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2133


DOI: 10.1111/bjd.12207