Researchers from the Newcastle University, UK, have identified the antioxidant Tiron and compared the protection offered against either UVA radiation or free radical stress by several antioxidants, some of which are found in foods or cosmetics.
While UVB radiation easily causes sunburn, UVA radiation penetrates deeper, damaging our DNA by generating free radicals which degrades the collagen that gives skin its elastic quality, researchers said.
The team found that the most potent antioxidants were those that targeted the batteries of the skin cells, known as the mitochondria.
They compared these mitochondrial-targeted antioxidants to other non-specific antioxidants such as resveratrol, found in red wine, and curcumin found in curries, that target the entire cell.
They found that the most potent mitochondrial targeted antioxidant was Tiron which provided 100 per cent protection of the skin cell against UVA sun damage and the release of damaging enzymes causing stress-induced damage.
"To discover that Tiron offers complete protection against UVA damage is exciting and promising, however, it is early days as Tiron is not a naturally occurring compound and has not yet been tested for toxicity in humans although there have been a few studies on rats," study author Mark Birch-Machin said.
Our skin ages due to the constant exposure to sunlight as ultraviolet radiation from the sun penetrates cells and increases the number of damaging free radicals, especially the reactive oxygen species.
Too many reactive oxygen species can be harmful because they can damage the DNA within our cells.    

Over time, this can lead to the accumulation of mutations which speed up ageing and destroy the skin's supportive fibres, collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles.     

Tiron which has the chemical composition 4,5-Dihydroxy-1,3-benzenedisulfonic acid disodium salt monohydrate was revealed to provide 100 percent protection against mitochondrial DNA damage, researchers said.
The study was published in The FASEB Journal.


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