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In Sight—UVA Protection Through Strawberry Anthocyanins
By: Katie Anderson
Posted: October 1, 2012, from the October 2012 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
Francesca Giampieri, center, is a doctoral student at the Università Politecnica delle Marche’s department of odontostomatologic and specialized clinical sciences. She conducted the research with fellow students Luca Mazzoni, left, and José Miguel Alvarez Suarez, right.
Strawberries are widely enjoyed both unadorned and in a number of desserts for their sweet taste and nutritional benefit. Although many people are aware of the vitamin C content in strawberries—160% daily value in one serving (approx. 5.3 oz.) according to the US Food and Drug Administration1—their consumption or application may also provide UV protection to skin.
Strawberries contain a high amount of phenolic compounds, of which anthocyanin is the best known and most abundant. Anthocyanin is a flavanoid pigment that gives the fruit its red color as well as protects it from UV damage. Scientists at the Università Politecnica delle Marche, The University of Barcelona, the University of Salamanca and the University of Granada have produced an extract of strawberry to quantify the ability of the fruit to protect the skin.
Francesca Giampieri and colleagues at the Università Politecnica delle Marche, headed by Maurizio Battino, PhD, initially sought to characterize and genetically improve the nutritional quality of several strawberry genotypes. In undertaking this research, according to Giampieri, the team found that anthocyanin has a number of activities that could benefit humans. “Aside from the photoprotective activity, [anthocyanins] possess strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties and are able to modulate enzymatic pathways. Thus, they play a role in preventing human diseases related to oxidative stress,” noted Giampieri.
The team was interested in evaluating the effect of acute and prolonged strawberry consumption on the antioxidant status in animal and human subjects. The high phenolic content of Fragaria x ananassa (Sveva cultivar), referred to as the garden strawberry, was first identified and its photoprotective benefits investigated.
“The high nutritional quality, especially in terms of anthocyanin content, of the strawberry Sveva cultivar has been particularly reported, so we decided to test the Sveva extract for its potential photoprotective activity, [on human skin]” said Giampieri. “We aimed to verify if [an] anthocyanin-rich strawberry extract showed a photoprotective property in human dermal fibroblasts.”