An investigation of the photostabilisation of sunscreen absorbers by plant polyphenols.
Mturi, Georges Jasper.
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Commercial sunscreen products are used to protect the skin against hannful ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can induce skin cancer at high dosage. These products contain UV filters that can reflect, scatter or absorb UV light. The chemical UV filters responsible for the absorption of UV radiation can be photochemically modified and as a result reduce the efficacy of the sunscreen formulation. This study focused on the possible use ofplant polyphenols as potential stabilisers of photo-unstable sunscreen chemical absorbers. The photo-instability of some sunscreen absorbers results in radical formation; this prompted the use of the plant, Sutherlandia microphylla (Cancer Bush plant), as a potential photostabiliser. The Cancer Bush plant is used by the indigenous people of South Africa to treat AIDS and cancer. The radical scavenging properties of polyphenolic compounds present in the plant are possibly responsible for the plant's anti-tumour and anti-IDV properties. Therefore, these Cancer Bush polyphenols could possibly be used to photostabilise photo-unstable sunscreen absorbers. Potential polyphenolic photostabilisers from the Cancer Bush plant were extracted by means of various polyphenolic extraction methods. These extracts were analysed by gas chromatography (GC), high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), UV spectroscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The phenolic content and the antioxidant activity ofthese extracts were investigated by means of the Folin-eiocalteu reagent (FCR) and the diphenylpicrylhydrazyl (DPPH) radical assays respectively. Polyphenols were also extracted from various Rooibos teas and compared with those extracted from the Cancer Bush plant. Both the Cancer Bush and various Rooibos tea extracts were found to contain simple phen~lics and potential polyphenolic compounds. The Cancer Bush extracts as well as the Rooibos tea extracts together with the specific polyphenols, epicatechin and rutin, were assessed for their ability to photostabilise sunscreen absorbers. The photostability of the chemical absorbers in the absence and in the presence of the polyphenol extracts was investigated by UV spectroscopy, by monitoring their absorption spectra during irradiation with solar-simulated radiation. These extracts inhibited the photodegradation of the absorber avobenzone. The photostability of avobenzone is solventIntroduction III dependent hence the investigations were carried out in three solvents, namely, cyclohexane, ethyl acetate and dimethylsulfoxide. Additionally, the cause ofthe instability ofavobenzone in these solvents was investigated by means of DV spectroscopy, HPLC and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The oxygen dependency of the photo-instability of avobenzone was also determined. The photo-instability of avobenzone was found to occur as a result of photoisomerisation and!or photodegradation, depending on the solvent. Avobenzone photoisomerised extensively in dimethylsulfoxide and photodegraded appreciably in cyclohexane, whereas both processes occurred to a similar extent in ethyl acetate. Photoisomerisation only occurred in the presence of oxygen whereas photodegradation occurred irrespective of oxygen. The Cancer Bush and various Rooibos tea extracts as well as other polyphenols photostabilised avobenzone in ethyl acetate and dimethylsulfoxide but not in cyclohexane. This photostabilisation effect was potentially due to the radical scavenging ability of polyphenols which prevented the oxygendependent photoisomerisation, but not the oxygen independent photodegradation process from occurring.