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Concept: Ultraviolet


Experts agree that careful cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces are essential elements of effective infection prevention programs. However, traditional manual cleaning and disinfection practices in hospitals are often suboptimal. This is often due in part to a variety of personnel issues that many Environmental Services departments encounter. Failure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations for disinfectant use and lack of antimicrobial activity of some disinfectants against healthcare-associated pathogens may also affect the efficacy of disinfection practices. Improved hydrogen peroxide-based liquid surface disinfectants and a combination product containing peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide are effective alternatives to disinfectants currently in widespread use, and electrolyzed water (hypochlorous acid) and cold atmospheric pressure plasma show potential for use in hospitals. Creating “self-disinfecting” surfaces by coating medical equipment with metals such as copper or silver, or applying liquid compounds that have persistent antimicrobial activity surfaces are additional strategies that require further investigation. Newer “no-touch” (automated) decontamination technologies include aerosol and vaporized hydrogen peroxide, mobile devices that emit continuous ultraviolet (UV-C) light, a pulsed-xenon UV light system, and use of high-intensity narrow-spectrum (405 nm) light. These “no-touch” technologies have been shown to reduce bacterial contamination of surfaces. A micro-condensation hydrogen peroxide system has been associated in multiple studies with reductions in healthcare-associated colonization or infection, while there is more limited evidence of infection reduction by the pulsed-xenon system. A recently completed prospective, randomized controlled trial of continuous UV-C light should help determine the extent to which this technology can reduce healthcare-associated colonization and infections. In conclusion, continued efforts to improve traditional manual disinfection of surfaces are needed. In addition, Environmental Services departments should consider the use of newer disinfectants and no-touch decontamination technologies to improve disinfection of surfaces in healthcare.

Concepts: Oxygen, Ultraviolet, Hydrogen peroxide, Antiseptic, Chlorine, Disinfectant, Sodium hypochlorite, Disinfectants


Sunlight has important biological effects in human skin. Ultraviolet (UV) light striking the epidermis catalyzes the synthesis of Vitamin D and triggers melanin production. Although a causative element in skin cancers, sunlight is also associated with positive health outcomes including reduced incidences of autoimmune diseases and cancers. The mechanisms, however, by which light affects immune function remain unclear. Here we describe direct photon sensing in human and mouse T lymphocytes, a cell-type highly abundant in skin. Blue light irradiation at low doses (<300 mJ cm(-2)) triggers synthesis of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in T cells revealed by the genetically encoded reporter HyPerRed. In turn, H2O2 activates a Src kinase/phospholipase C-γ1 (PLC-γ1) signaling pathway and Ca(2+) mobilization. Pharmacologic inhibition or genetic disruption of Lck kinase, PLC-γ1 or the T cell receptor complex inhibits light-evoked Ca(2+) transients. Notably, both light and H2O2 enhance T-cell motility in a Lck-dependent manner. Thus, T lymphocytes possess intrinsic photosensitivity and this property may enhance their motility in skin.

Concepts: Immune system, Vitamin D, Ultraviolet, T cell, Major histocompatibility complex, T cell receptor, Lck, Thymus


Fluorescence using ultraviolet (UV) light has seen increased use as a tool in paleontology over the last decade. Laser-stimulated fluorescence (LSF) is a next generation technique that is emerging as a way to fluoresce paleontological specimens that remain dark under typical UV. A laser’s ability to concentrate very high flux rates both at the macroscopic and microscopic levels results in specimens fluorescing in ways a standard UV bulb cannot induce. Presented here are five paleontological case histories that illustrate the technique across a broad range of specimens and scales. Novel uses such as back-lighting opaque specimens to reveal detail and detection of specimens completely obscured by matrix are highlighted in these examples. The recent cost reductions in medium-power short wavelength lasers and use of standard photographic filters has now made this technique widely accessible to researchers. This technology has the potential to automate multiple aspects of paleontology, including preparation and sorting of microfossils. This represents a highly cost-effective way to address paleontology’s preparatory bottleneck.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Ultraviolet, Biology, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Fluorescent lamp, Black light


The increase in reports of novel diseases in a wide range of ecosystems, both terrestrial and marine, has been linked to many factors including exposure to novel pathogens and changes in the global climate. Prevalence of skin cancer in particular has been found to be increasing in humans, but has not been reported in wild fish before. Here we report extensive melanosis and melanoma (skin cancer) in wild populations of an iconic, commercially-important marine fish, the coral trout Plectropomus leopardus. The syndrome reported here has strong similarities to previous studies associated with UV induced melanomas in the well-established laboratory fish model Xiphophorus. Relatively high prevalence rates of this syndrome (15%) were recorded at two offshore sites in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP). In the absence of microbial pathogens and given the strong similarities to the UV-induced melanomas, we conclude that the likely cause was environmental exposure to UV radiation. Further studies are needed to establish the large scale distribution of the syndrome and confirm that the lesions reported here are the same as the melanoma in Xiphophorus, by assessing mutation of the EGFR gene, Xmrk. Furthermore, research on the potential links of this syndrome to increases in UV radiation from stratospheric ozone depletion needs to be completed.

Concepts: Cancer, Ultraviolet, Melanoma, Ozone depletion, Skin cancer, Sunburn, Sunscreen, Great Barrier Reef


Some tissue types give rise to human cancers millions of times more often than other tissue types. Although this has been recognized for more than a century, it has never been explained. Here, we show that the lifetime risk of cancers of many different types is strongly correlated (0.81) with the total number of divisions of the normal self-renewing cells maintaining that tissue’s homeostasis. These results suggest that only a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions. The majority is due to “bad luck,” that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells. This is important not only for understanding the disease but also for designing strategies to limit the mortality it causes.

Concepts: DNA, Cell, Cancer, Mutation, Ultraviolet, Cell division, Chromosome, DNA replication


An unknown vitamin D compound was observed in the HPLC-UV chromatogram of edible mushrooms in the course of analyzing vitamin D(2) as part of a food composition study and confirmed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to be vitamin D(4) (22-dihydroergocalciferol). Vitamin D(4) was quantified by HPLC with UV detection, with vitamin [(3)H] itamin D(3) as an internal standard. White button, crimini, portabella, enoki, shiitake, maitake, oyster, morel, chanterelle, and UV-treated portabella mushrooms were analyzed, as four composites each of a total of 71 samples from U.S. retail suppliers and producers. Vitamin D(4) was present (>0.1 µg/100 g) in a total of 18 composites and in at least one composite of each mushroom type except white button. The level was highest in samples with known UV exposure: vitamin D enhanced portabella, and maitake mushrooms from one supplier (0.2-7.0 and 22.5-35.4 µg/100 g, respectively). Other mushrooms had detectable vitamin D(4) in some but not all samples. In one composite of oyster mushrooms the vitamin D(4) content was more than twice that of D(2) (6.29 vs. 2.59 µg/100 g). Vitamin D(4) exceeded 2 µg/100 g in the morel and chanterelle mushroom samples that contained D(4), but was undetectable in two morel samples. The vitamin D(4) precursor 22,23-dihydroergosterol was found in all composites (4.49-16.5 mg/100 g). Vitamin D(4) should be expected to occur in mushrooms exposed to UV light, such as commercially produced vitamin D enhanced products, wild grown mushrooms or other mushrooms receiving incidental exposure. Because vitamin D(4) coeluted with D(3) in the routine HPLC analysis of vitamin D(2) and an alternate mobile phase was necessary for resolution, researchers analyzing vitamin D(2) in mushrooms and using D(3) as an internal standard should verify that the system will resolve vitamins D(3) and D(4).

Concepts: Vitamin D, Ultraviolet, Fungus, Chromatography, Mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, Edible mushroom, Edible fungi


Highly efficient room-temperature ultraviolet (UV) luminescence is obtained in heterostructures consisting of 10-nm-thick ultrathin ZnO films grown on Si nanopillars fabricated using self-assembled silver nanoislands as a natural metal nanomask during a subsequent dry etching process. Atomic layer deposition was applied for depositing the ZnO films on the Si nanopillars under an ambient temperature of 200°C. Based on measurements of photoluminescence (PL), an intensive UV emission corresponding to free-exciton recombination (approximately 3.31 eV) was observed with a nearly complete suppression of the defect-associated, broad-range visible emission peak. As compared to the ZnO/Si substrate, the almost five-times-of-magnitude enhancement in the intensity of PL, which peaked around 3.31 eV in the present ultrathin ZnO/Si nanopillars, is presumably attributed to the high surface/volume ratio inherent to the Si nanopillars. This allowed considerably more amount of ZnO material to be grown on the template and led to markedly more efficient intrinsic emission.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Titanium dioxide, Luminescence, Zinc oxide, Sunscreen, Surface-area-to-volume ratio, Intensive and extensive properties, Nanopillar


Human skin color is predominantly determined by melanin produced in melanosomes within melanocytes and subsequently distributed to keratinocytes. There are many studies that have proposed mechanisms underlying ethnic skin color variations, whereas the processes involved from melanin synthesis in melanocytes to the transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes are common among humans. Apart from the activities in the melanogenic rate-limiting enzyme, tyrosinase, in melanocytes and the amounts and distribution patterns of melanosomes in keratinocytes, the abilities of the actin-associated factors in charge of melanosome transport within melanocytes also regulate pigmentation. Mutations in genes encoding melanosome transport-related molecules, such as MYO5A, RAB27A and SLAC-2A, have been reported to cause a human pigmentary disease known as Griscelli syndrome, which is associated with diluted skin and hair color. Thus we hypothesized that process might play a role in modulating skin color variations. To address that hypothesis, the correlations of expression of RAB27A and its specific effector, SLAC2-A, to melanogenic ability were evaluated in comparison with tyrosinase, using human melanocytes derived from 19 individuals of varying skin types. Following the finding of the highest correlation in RAB27A expression to the melanogenic ability, darkly-pigmented melanocytes with significantly higher RAB27A expression were found to transfer significantly more melanosomes to keratinocytes than lightly-pigmented melanocytes in co-culture and in human skin substitutes (HSSs) in vivo, resulting in darker skin color in concert with the difference observed in African-descent and Caucasian skins. Additionally, RAB27A knockdown by a lentivirus-derived shRNA in melanocytes concomitantly demonstrated a significantly reduced number of transferred melanosomes to keratinocytes in co-culture and a significantly diminished epidermal melanin content skin color intensity (ΔL* = 4.4) in the HSSs. These data reveal the intrinsically essential role of RAB27A in human ethnic skin color determination and provide new insights for the fundamental understanding of regulatory mechanisms underlying skin pigmentation.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Skin, Melanin, Race, Human skin color, Melanocyte, Eye color, Human skin


Carotenoids are protective pigments present in many aquatic organisms that reduce the photooxidative stress induced by short-wavelenght solar radiation, yet increase their susceptibility to predators. Arctodiaptomus spinosus, a calanoid copepod typically found in many fishless shallow soda lakes, shows large between-lake differences in pigmentation. Here, we attribute these differences to the environmental state of these ecosystems, namely, ‘dark water’ lakes with submersed vegetation and turbid ‘white’ lakes lacking macrophytes. Copepod carotenoid concentration in the turbid ‘white’ lakes was significantly (about 20-fold) higher than in the ‘dark water’ ones, although the latter systems were characterized by higher transparency. In addition, males had on a dry weight basis around three times higher carotenoid concentrations than females. Mycosporine-like amino acids (direct UV screening substances) were found in all cases, but in low concentration. The environmental conditions in these ecosystems were largely shaped by the presence/absence of submersed macrophytes Thus, in the turbid lakes, the strong wind-driven mixis allows for copepods to be brought to the surface and being exposed to solar radiation, whereas in ‘dark water’ ones, macrophytes reduce water turbulence and additionally provide shelter. Our results explain the counter-intuitive notion of strong red pigmentation in copepods from a turbid ecosystem and suggest that factors other than high UV transparency favor carotenoid accumulation in zooplankton.

Concepts: Ultraviolet, Acid, Concentration, Water pollution, Sunlight, Pigment, Pigments, Calanoida


Sunscreens protect the skin against erythemal radiation (Eer). But at the same time they reduce the effective radiation dose (EVD) responsible for the formation of previtamin D in the skin. The paper describes a calculation method for optimizing the ratio EVD/Eer behind sunscreens e.g. with SPF 5, 15 and 30 respectively. Taking into account that a majority of people in industrialized countries suffer from a shortage in vitamin D even in summer time, the ratio Evd/Eer is a new and important criterion for the quality of sunscreens. Furthermore the exposure time tvd needed per day for forming the equivalent of the recommended amount of 2000 IU of vitamin D per day for skin type 2 is estimated when sunscreens with different filter compositions are used. In vitro experiments show a significant increase of the conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) to previtamin D when exposed to artificial solar radiation behind an experimental sunscreen optimized for previtamin D production compared to a commercial sunscreen having the same SPF.

Concepts: Vitamin D, Ultraviolet, Sunlight, Skin, Sunburn, Sunscreen, Effective dose, Risks and benefits of sun exposure