Topical application of the isoflavone equol immediately following solar-simulated UV (SSUV) radiation exposure has previously been demonstrated to have significant photoprotective effects. Equol reduced both the inflammatory edema and the systemic suppression of the contact hypersensitivity reaction in hairless mice. Furthermore, daily topical equol application immediately following irradiation during a 10-week chronic SSUV exposure regime also reduced photocarcinogenesis severity in the mouse. This study examines the potential for topical equol to prevent photoaging in response to chronic SSUV irradiation for up to 30 weeks. We did not find consistent expression of the characteristic markers of photoaging until 30 weeks, although moderate epidermal hyperplasia and a transient increase in dermal mast cell numbers were evident after 1 week. Daily application of 10 μM equol lotion significantly reduced these early changes. However after 30 weeks of SSUV exposure, photoaging was well developed, as shown histologically by markedly increased epidermal hyperplasia, increased dermal mast cell number, pronounced focal elastotic deposits, degraded dermal collagen and deposition of glycosaminoglycans in the lower dermis. Topical equol treatment protected significantly from each of these impairments, as demonstrated histologically and quantitatively. Additionally, equol was found to have strong antioxidant action against acute UVA (320–400 nm)–induced lipid peroxidation of mouse skin, this property accounting for its antiphotoaging mechanism. The evidence for equol's antiphotoaging activity, taken together with its anti-inflammatory, immunoprotective and anticarcinogenic efficacy against SSUV irradiation in the mouse, suggests that equol could be developed as a helpful topical photoprotective agent for daily use by humans.
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Vol. 81 • No. 6