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The effects of topical L-selenomethionine on protection against UVB-induced skin cancer when given before, during, and after UVB exposure

Karen E. Burke, Xueyan Zhou, Yongyin Wang, Joel Commisso, Carl L. Keen, Robert M. Nakamura, Gerald F. Combs Jr., Huachen Wei
Journal of drugs in dermatology 2014 v.13 no.10 pp. 1214-1223
animal models, carcinogenesis, cosmetics, disease prevention, drugs, mice, neoplasms, selenium, selenomethionine, skin diseases, topical application, ultraviolet radiation
Many studies have shown that the essential nutrient selenium (Se) can prevent tumorigenesis in animal models. Most such studies have used forms of Se provided in food; only few have addressed the question of whether Se compounds applied to the skin may also protect against cancer, particularly those of the skin. Our team previous found that Se can be absorbed by the skin when applied topically, and that topical application of L-selenomethionine (SeMet) can prevent skin cancer induced by ultraviolet-B (UVB) light. We conducted this experiment to learn whether the timing of SeMet application affect its capacity to inhibit UVB-tumorigenesis, as that information will inform prospects for practical use of Se for prevention of skin cancer. Specifically, we wanted to learn whether topical SeMet is most protective if applied (a) before, during and after UVB exposure, (b) until tumors are detected, or (c) after tumors are detected. We applied SeMet in a skin lotion (0.05%) with an unsupplemented lotion as a control, both applied to the backs of hairless, non-pigmented mice given measured exposures to UV radiation, which was discontinued when the first tumor was detected. Results showed that optimal inhibition of skin cancer was achieved by applying topical SeMet continuously, and that application after the onset of tumors also conferred protection. These results suggest that SeMet supplementation even late in the process of tumorigenesis can help protect from UV-induced photodamage and skin cancer.