We tested the hypothesis that the strain of mice used in sunscreen protection experiments may influence immune protection. Ultraviolet (UV) dose–response curves were done in the presence or absence of a sun protection factor (SPF) 15 sunscreen using SKH1:hrBR or C3H/HeN mice. SKH1:hrBR mice showed a higher sensitivity to the suppressive effects of UV radiation (50% immune suppression equal to 5.2 kJ/m2 UVB in SKH1:hrBR mice versus 18.5 kJ/m2 in C3H mice). Immune protection factors (IPF) and an erythema protection factor (Ery-PF) for SKH1:hr mice were derived. The Ery-PF in hairless mice was 13.5, which was similar to the SPF of 15 measured in humans. When IPF were calculated as a ratio of minimal immune suppressive doses, the IPF for the SKH1:hrBR mice was 8.23 and the IFP for the C3H/HeN mice was 1.92. When IPF were estimated using the entire UV dose–response range, they were equal to 9.01 for SKH1:hrBR mice and 1.79 for the C3H/HeN mice. Because IPF and SPF can be measured directly in hairless mice, we suggest that the use of hairless mice may provide a better model to measure sunscreen efficacy, especially when the use of human volunteers is inappropriate, unethical or impossible.
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Vol. 78 • No. 1