Sunscreen Additive's Allergenic Effects | November 9, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 45 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 45 | p. 40 | Concentrates
Issue Date: November 9, 2009

Sunscreen Additive's Allergenic Effects

A toxicology study sorts out how dibenzoylmethanes used to filter out UV-A light photodegrade into compounds that irritate the skin
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: sunscreen, contact allergy, photodegradation

Swedish researchers may have figured out what makes a common sunscreen additive turn into an allergen. 4-tert-Butyl-4'-methoxydibenzoylmethane is used in sunscreens to filter out UV-A light (320–400 nm). It replaced 4-isopropyl­dibenzoylmethane, which was taken off the market because it caused photocontact allergies. The difference between the two compounds is the substituents in the para positions. Anna Börje and coworkers of the University of Gothenburg investigated the photodegradation products—primarily arylglyoxals and benzils—of four different dibenzoylmethanes to determine how the substitution pattern affects the compounds’ allergenic potential (Chem. Res. Toxicol., DOI: 10.1021/tx900284e). They found the arylglyoxals to be strong skin sensitizers and highly reactive toward arginine. Changing the electronic properties of a para substituent didn’t significantly affect the sensitizing or electrophilic power of the arylglyoxals, the researchers note, so changing the substitution pattern of the parent dibenzoylmethane shouldn’t affect the sensitizing properties either. In vitro assays with benzils show that they are cytotoxic rather than allergenic. Therefore, the allergenic properties of the dibenzoylmethanes are probably caused by the arylglyoxal photodegradation products, the researchers conclude.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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