Exposure of certain strains of mice to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) causes suppression of some innate and adaptive immune responses. One such consequence of acute UVB exposure is a reduction in the number of Langerhans cells (LC) in the epidermis and an increase in dendritic cells (DC) in lymph nodes draining the irradiated skin sites. Exposure to chronic UVB irradiation also has effects on the immune system, but it is unknown what effects are caused by repeated doses of solar simulated radiation (SSR). Consequently, the main aims of the present study were to determine whether repeated exposure to low doses of SSR would lead to similar changes in these cell populations and whether chronic doses of SSR activate a protective photoadaptation mechanism. Groups of C3H/HeN mice were irradiated daily with 3.7 J/cm2 SSR from Cleo Natural lamps for 2, 10, 20, 30 or 60 days. Further groups of mice received an additional dose of 7.4 J/cm2 SSR on days 2, 10, 30 or 60 to test for photoadaptation. The numbers of LC in the epidermis and DC in the lymph nodes draining irradiated skin sites were counted 24 h after the final irradiation. With the exception of mice irradiated for only 2 days, LC were significantly reduced throughout the chronic irradiation protocol, and no recovery occurred. DC numbers were significantly increased in the draining lymph nodes of mice irradiated for 20 days and 60 days.
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Vol. 81 • No. 5