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Issue 7, 2008
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5-Methyltetrahydrofolate is photosensitive in the presence of riboflavin

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5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5MTHF) is the main form of folate in human plasma, and an important vitamin for human health. Photodegradation of folates may have played a role in the development of different human skin colours. 5MTHF can be degraded directly by exposure to ultraviolet radiation or by exposure to visible light in the presence of endogenous sensitizers like riboflavin (RF). These photochemical reactions were studied by absorption spectroscopy. While 5MTHF is stable under UV and visible light exposure in pure aqueous media, it is quickly degraded in the presence of RF during UVA and blue light exposure. The degradation of 5MTHF is dependent on the concentration of RF, but not on the concentration of 5MTHF itself. UVA and blue light gave similar reactions. Further investigations are necessary to evaluate the consequences of large light exposures in vivo in humans. Our findings should be taken into the ongoing discussion about the development of human skin colours. Due to the presence of RF in human blood, folate can be significantly degraded during prolonged or intense blue light exposure. Thus, a dark skin colour may be favourable for prevention of folate degradation under high solar fluence rates, such as in equatorial areas.

Graphical abstract: 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate is photosensitive in the presence of riboflavin

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Publication details

The article was received on 07 Dec 2007, accepted on 09 Apr 2008 and first published on 21 Apr 2008

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B718907A
Citation: Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2008,7, 814-818
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    5-Methyltetrahydrofolate is photosensitive in the presence of riboflavin

    A. H. Steindal, T. T. T. Tam, X. Y. Lu, A. Juzeniene and J. Moan, Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2008, 7, 814
    DOI: 10.1039/B718907A

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