Strawberry extract protects skin against UV rays

August 5th, 2012 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Aug 5 (IANS) A strawberry extract developed by Italian and Spanish researchers seems to protect the skin against harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation and reduce damage to DNA.

“We have verified the protecting effect of strawberry extract against damage to skins cells caused by UVA rays,” said Maurizio Battino, researcher at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Italy, who led the joint Spanish and Italian study.

UVA and UVB are two types of ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun, which penetrate the earth’s atmosphere. They cause premature aging or wrinkling of the skin. Other damaging effects are cataracts, weakening of the immune system, and skin cancer, the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry reported.

The team prepared human skin cell cultures (fibroblasts) and added strawberry extract in different concentrations. Using ultraviolet light, the samples were then exposed to a dose “equivalent to 90 minutes of midday summer sun in the French Riviera,” according to a statement of FECYT, Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology.

Data confirm that the strawberry extract, especially at a concentration of 0.5 mg per millitre, displays photoprotective properties in those fibroblasts exposed to UVA radiation, it increases cell survival and viability and decreases damage in the DNA when compared with control cells.

“These aspects are of great importance as they provide protection for cell lines subject to conditions that can provoke cancer and other skin-related inflammatory and degenerative illnesses,” outlines Battino.

But what molecules give strawberries their photoprotective properties? Scientists suspect that it could be the anthocyanins, which are pigments that give leaves, flowers and fruits their red colour. Analyses have confirmed that extracts are rich in such substances.

“These compounds have important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumour properties and are capable of modulating enzymatic processes,” explained study co-author Sara Tulipani from the University of Barcelona.

“We have not yet found a direct relationship between their presence and photoprotective properties,” she added.

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