A strong association has been found between mutated p53 tumor suppressor genes and cancers in humans. Cancers arise from a culmination of genetic and environmental factors, including exposure ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. Long exposure to UV has proven negative effects on cell homeostasis. Much of the damage caused by UV light exposure is through generation of free radicals. Zeaxanthin is a known antioxidant/free radical scavenger which protects cells by neutralizing damage causing free radical molecules. This study was conducted to determine the effects of zeaxanthin on preventing the negative effects of UV light on cell viability, cell cycle control, and p53 levels. The analyzed parameters of cell health were cell survival, cell cycle staging using flow cytometry, and p53 levels using in-cell ELISA. UV light treatments had a negative effect on the cell viability and showed increased numbers of cells in cell cycle arrest. Both treatments with zeaxanthin resulted in a reduced cell viability and increased cell cycle arrest. We used the same zeaxanthin concentrations to determine p53 levels in the cells. However, the control group were the only cells that survived the treatment and all zeaxanthin treated cells died. These preliminary results indicate that zeaxanthin did not provide protection from the UV light damage since there was an increase in cell death and cell cycle arrest. The effects of zeaxanthin on preventing free radical damage needs further investigation, as current literature indicates that treatments of these free radical scavenging products reduce potential lethal damage from UV light.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2022


Oliver Oakley

Mentor Department Affiliation

Biological Sciences

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Biological Sciences

Image of control group cells.jpg (36 kB)
Image of control group cells

Image of UV light treated cells.jpg (22 kB)
Image of UV light group cells