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J Photochem Photobiol B. 2001 Oct;63(1-3):41-51.

Solar UV irradiation and dermal photoaging.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Cologne, Joseph-Stelzmann-Strasse 9, 50931 Cologne, Germany.


The skin is increasingly exposed to ambient UV-irradiation thus increasing risks for photooxidative damage with long-term detrimental effects like photoaging, characterized by wrinkles, loss of skin tone and resilience. Photoaged skin displays alterations in the cellular component and extracellular matrix with accumulation of disorganized elastin and its microfibrillar component fibrillin in the deep dermis and a severe loss of interstitial collagens, the major structural proteins of the dermal connective tissue. The unifying pathogenic agents for these changes are UV-generated reactive oxygen species (ROS) which deplete and damage non-enzymatic and enzymatic antioxidant defense systems of the skin. As well as causing permanent genetic changes, ROS activate cytoplasmic signal transduction pathways in resident fibroblasts that are related to growth, differentiation, senescence and connective tissue degradation. This review focuses on the role of UV-induced ROS in the photodamage of the skin resulting in clinical and biochemical characteristics of photoaging. In addition, the relationship of photoaging to intrinsic aging of the skin will be briefly discussed. A decrease in the overall ROS load by efficient sunscreens or other protective agents may represent promising strategies to prevent or at least minimize ROS-induced photoaging.

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