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PLoS One. 2008;3(12):e4066. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004066. Epub 2008 Dec 30.

Aging alters functionally human dermal papillary fibroblasts but not reticular fibroblasts: a new view of skin morphogenesis and aging.

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  • 1L'Oréal, Sciences du Vivant, Clichy, France.


Understanding the contribution of the dermis in skin aging is a key question, since this tissue is particularly important for skin integrity, and because its properties can affect the epidermis. Characteristics of matched pairs of dermal papillary and reticular fibroblasts (Fp and Fr) were investigated throughout aging, comparing morphology, secretion of cytokines, MMPs/TIMPs, growth potential, and interaction with epidermal keratinocytes. We observed that Fp populations were characterized by a higher proportion of small cells with low granularity and a higher growth potential than Fr populations. However, these differences became less marked with increasing age of donors. Aging was also associated with changes in the secretion activity of both Fp and Fr. Using a reconstructed skin model, we evidenced that Fp and Fr cells do not possess equivalent capacities to sustain keratinopoiesis. Comparing Fp and Fr from young donors, we noticed that dermal equivalents containing Fp were more potent to promote epidermal morphogenesis than those containing Fr. These data emphasize the complexity of dermal fibroblast biology and document the specific functional properties of Fp and Fr. Our results suggest a new model of skin aging in which marked alterations of Fp may affect the histological characteristics of skin.

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