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J Invest Dermatol. 1991 Jun;96(6):975-8.

Topical all-trans retinoic acid stimulates collagen synthesis in vivo.

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Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Department of Dermatology, New York, New York.


Histochemical and ultrastructural studies demonstrate that topical all-trans retinoic acid (RA) stimulates the deposition of a subepidermal band of collagen in photoaged hairless mice. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of RA treatment on collagen synthesis using biochemical and immunochemical techniques. Albino hairless mice were irradiated three times a week for 10 weeks with four minimal erythema doses of UVB from Westinghouse FS-40 bulbs. In the post-UV period, mice were either nontreated or treated with 0.05% RA or the ethanol-propylene glycol vehicle for up to 10 weeks. Antibodies against the aminopropeptide (AP) of type III procollagen were used in immunofluorescence microscopy and radioimmunoassay techniques. The AP of type III collagen is normally present throughout the dermis and in areas of active collagen synthesis (i.e., the dermal-epidermal junction). In this study, a similar distribution was seen in all untreated and vehicle-treated mice, and in mice treated with RA for 2, 4, and 6 weeks. However, increased staining, in a subepidermal band, was detected in the 8-week RA-treated skin. This region became intensely fluorescent to a depth of 100 mu in the 10-week RA-treated skins. As determined by radioimmunoassay, the content of the AP of type III procollagen increased twofold with 10-week RA treatment. Because the ratio of type I to type III collagens remained constant in treated and untreated skins, it is reasonable to assume that the content of type I collagen increased in proportion to type III collagen in RA-treated skins.

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