Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical and General Engineering


Lily Hsu Laiho


The ultraviolet (UV) spectrum has been known to cause damage to skin in varying degrees. UVB radiation (290-320 nm) in particular, has been proven to be highly mutagenic and carcinogenic in many animal experiments compared to either UVA or UVC. The alarming rate of increase in skin cancer incidence has prompted many investigators to pursue other alternatives to sunscreens including changes in lifestyle habits and dietary consumption in order to boost our efforts in tackling this widespread disease. Previous studies employing confocal reflectance, MTT assay and histology suggest that milk phospholipids may possess protective properties against UVB-mediated damage but the molecular mechanism for this effect remains unclear. This study aims to evaluate changes in cell morphology, apoptosis and p21 expression in tissue engineered epidermis to increase our understanding of the mechanisms behind the potential protective effects of milk phospholipids against UV-induced photodamage. Human skin tissue equivalents were incubated in either 1% milk phospholipid solution or maintenance media then exposed to 120 mJ/cm2 dose of 300 nm UVB after 24 hours. The upregulation of p21 protein in response to DNA damage was measured with Western blot and immunofluorescence microscopy and markers for apoptosis and hyperplasia were examined 24 hours after irradiation. Results revealed that p21 levels and the amount of apoptotic markers such as fragmented DNA and nuclear condensation were significantly reduced in UV-exposed tissues pre-incubated with milk phospholipids compared to levels seen in both the positive control and UV-exposed skin tissue not incubated with milk phospholipids. This decrease in p21 expression may imply a reduction in DNA damage 24 hours after UV exposure or a decrease in acquired photodamage at the outset. Milk phospholipid incubation however, induced an increase in epidermal thickening with or without UV exposure, which may imply induction of a protective mechanism to enhance the barrier properties of skin.