A novel role of topical iodine in skin: Activation of the Nrf2 pathway

Maya Ben-Yehuda Greenwald, Marina Frušić-Zlotkin, Yoram Soroka, Shmuel Ben-Sasson, Havazelet Bianco-Peled, Ron Kohen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


For a long time iodine has been used as an active dermal agent in the treatment of inflammatory, immune-mediated and infectious diseases. Moreover, topical iodine application has been reported to provide protection against sulfur-mustard-induced skin lesions, heat-induced and acid-induced skin burns in both haired guinea-pigs and mouse ear swelling models. However, the exact mechanism of action underlying these benefits of iodine has not yet been elucidated. In the current study, a novel mechanism of action by which iodine provides skin protection and relief, based on its electrophilic nature, is suggested. This study demonstrates that both iodine and iodide are capable of activating the Nrf2 pathway in human skin. As a result, skin protection against UVB-induced damage was acquired and the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-8) from LPS-challenged skin was reduced. Iodide role in the enhanced activation of this pathway is demonstrated. The mode of action by which iodine and iodide activate the Nrf2 pathway is discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)238-248
Number of pages11
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Inc.


  • Electrophiles
  • Iodine
  • Nrf2
  • Oxidants
  • Oxidative stress
  • Phase-II enzymes
  • Potassium iodide
  • Skin


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