Melanosomes are a primary target of Q-switched ruby laser irradiation in guinea pig skin

Luigi L. Polla, Randall J. Margolis, Jeffrey S. Dover, Diana Whitaker, George F. Murphy, Steven L. Jacques, R. Rox Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations

Abstract

The specific targeting of melanosomes may allow for laser therapy of pigmented cutaneous lesions. The mechanism of selective destruction of pigmented cells by various lasers, however, has not been fully clarified. Black, brown, and albino guinea pigs were exposed to optical pulses at various radiant exposure doses from a Q-switched, 40 nsec, 694 nm ruby laser. Biopsies were analyzed by light and electron microscopy (EM). Albino animals failed to develop clinical or microscopic evidence of cutaneous injury after irradiation. In both black and brown animals, the clinical threshold for gross change was 0.4 J/cm2, which produced an ash-white spot. By light microscopy, alterations appeared at 0.3 J/cm2 and included separation at the dermoepidermal junction, and the formation of vacuolated epidermal cells with a peripheral cytoplasmic condensation of pigment. By EM, enlarged melanosomes with a central lucent zone were observed within affected epidermal cells at 0.3 J/cm2. At 0.8 and 1.2 J/cm2, individual melanosomes were more intensely damaged and disruption of melanosomes deep in the hair papillae was observed. Dermal-epidermal blisters were formed precisely at the lamina lucida, leaving basal cell membranes and hemidesmosomes intact. Possible mechanisms for melanosomal injury are discussed. These observations show that the effects of the Q-switched ruby laser are melanin-specific and melanin-dependent, and may be useful in the selective destruction of pigmented as well as superficial cutaneous lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-286
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Volume89
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology

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