Washington: Strawberry extract added to skin cell cultures acts as a protector against ultraviolet radiation as well as increasing its viability and reducing damage to DNA, a new study has shown.
Developed by a team of Italian and Spanish researchers, the study opens the door to the creation of photoprotective cream made from strawberries.
“We have verified the protecting effect of strawberry extract against damage to skins cells caused by UVA rays,” Maurizio Battino, researcher at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Italy and lead author of the jointly Spanish and Italian study, told SINC.
The team prepared human skin cell cultures (fibroblasts) and added strawberry extract in different concentrations (0.05, 0.25 and 0.5 mg/ml), the only exception being the control extract. Using ultraviolet light, the samples were then exposed to a dose “equivalent to 90 minutes of midday summer sun in the French Riviera.”
Data confirm that the strawberry extract, especially at a concentration of 0.5 mg/ml, displays photoprotective properties in those fibroblasts exposed to UVA radiation, it increases cell survival and viability and decreases damage in the DNA when compared with control cells.
“These aspects are of great importance as they provide protection for cell lines subject to conditions that can provoke cancer and other skin-related inflammatory and degenerative illnesses,” Battino said.
The researcher recognises that this is the “first step in determining the beneficial effects of strawberries in our diet or as a possible compound source for ‘food integrators’ or cosmetics for instance.”
But what molecules give strawberries their photoprotective properties? Scientists suspect that it could be the anthocyanins, which are pigments that give leaves, flowers and fruits their red colour. Analyses have confirmed that extracts are rich in such substances.
“These compounds have important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-tumour properties and are capable of modulating enzymatic processes,” Sara Tulipani from the University of Barcelona, another author of the study, said.
She adds that “we have not yet found a direct relationship between their presence and photoprotective properties.”
The study has been published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry.