Next Article in Journal
Oligofructose Provides Laxation for Irregularity Associated with Low Fiber Intake
Next Article in Special Issue
Claimed Effects, Outcome Variables and Methods of Measurement for Health Claims Proposed Under European Community Regulation 1924/2006 in the Framework of Maintenance of Skin Function
Previous Article in Journal
MicroRNA-132 Negatively Regulates Palmitate-Induced NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation through FOXO3 Down-Regulation in THP-1 Cells
Previous Article in Special Issue
Capsaicin: Friend or Foe in Skin Cancer and Other Related Malignancies?
Article Menu
Issue 12 (December) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessReview

Targeting NRF2 for Improved Skin Barrier Function and Photoprotection: Focus on the Achiote-Derived Apocarotenoid Bixin

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy & Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2017, 9(12), 1371;
Received: 15 November 2017 / Revised: 10 December 2017 / Accepted: 15 December 2017 / Published: 18 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutraceuticals and the Skin: Roles in Health and Disease)
PDF [1142 KB, uploaded 18 December 2017]


The transcription factor NRF2 (nuclear factor-E2-related factor 2) orchestrates major cellular defense mechanisms including phase-II detoxification, inflammatory signaling, DNA repair, and antioxidant response. Recent studies strongly suggest a protective role of NRF2-mediated gene expression in the suppression of cutaneous photodamage induced by solar UV (ultraviolet) radiation. The apocarotenoid bixin, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved natural food colorant (referred to as ‘annatto’) originates from the seeds of the achiote tree native to tropical America, consumed by humans since ancient times. Use of achiote preparations for skin protection against environmental insult and for enhanced wound healing has long been documented. We have recently reported that (i) bixin is a potent canonical activator of the NRF2-dependent cytoprotective response in human skin keratinocytes; that (ii) systemic administration of bixin activates NRF2 with protective effects against solar UV-induced skin damage; and that (iii) bixin-induced suppression of photodamage is observable in Nrf2+/+ but not in Nrf2−/− SKH-1 mice confirming the NRF2-dependence of bixin-induced antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, bixin displays molecular activities as sacrificial antioxidant, excited state quencher, PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor) α/γ agonist, and TLR (Toll-like receptor) 4/NFκB (nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells) antagonist, all of which might be relevant to the enhancement of skin barrier function and environmental stress protection. Potential skin photoprotection and photochemoprevention benefits provided by topical application or dietary consumption of this ethno-pharmacologically validated phytochemical originating from the Americas deserves further preclinical and clinical examination. View Full-Text
Keywords: skin photodamage; skin barrier function; solar ultraviolet (UV); NRF2; PPARα; bixin; achiote skin photodamage; skin barrier function; solar ultraviolet (UV); NRF2; PPARα; bixin; achiote

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Rojo de la Vega, M.; Krajisnik, A.; Zhang, D.D.; Wondrak, G.T. Targeting NRF2 for Improved Skin Barrier Function and Photoprotection: Focus on the Achiote-Derived Apocarotenoid Bixin. Nutrients 2017, 9, 1371.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Nutrients EISSN 2072-6643 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top