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Collagen loss in photoaged human skin is overestimated by histochemistry

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It is well known that photoaged skin is characterized by increases in dermal matrix components that include glycosaminoglycans, proteoglycans and masses of abnormal elastic fibers accompanied by substantial collagen loss. Histochemical staining of such tissue gives the impression of “massive” loss of collagen and its replacement by these other matrix components. Early biochemical studies have lent support to this notion with a reported decrease in total collagen of ∼45% compared to protected skin. More recent studies report considerably less, but varying, amounts of collagen loss. Rarely have the two approaches, histochemistry and biochemical analysis, been used in the same study to examine the same tissue. In this study, collagen loss was quantified biochemically in paired biopsies from sun-protected and sun-exposed arm skin of moderately photoaged female subjects (age 51–77 years). The values obtained were compared with histochemical and immunochemical findings. Quantitatively, collagen loss on a per mg protein basis was small compared to the histochemical appearance.

Keywords: biochemistry; collagen; elastosis; glycosaminoglycans; immunohistochemistry; photoaging

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA and 2: Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2000


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