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J Cosmet Sci. 2013 May-Jun;64(3):175-9.

Menopause increases the iron storage protein ferritin in skin.

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Department of Medicine and Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, NY, NY, USA.


Menstruation and desquamation are important routes for humans to excrete iron. Because menstruation is no longer available in postmenopausal women, in the present study, we examined whether iron accumulates more in postmenopausal skin than in premenopausal skin. Skin biopsy samples were obtained from six pre- and six postmenopausal Caucasian women. Iron levels in the form of ferritin were 42% higher, but vascular endothelial growth factor and total antioxidant capacity were 45% and 34% lower in postmenopausal skin (58.8 ± 1.3 years old) than in premenopausal skin (41.6 ± 1.7 years old), respectively. Moreover, in vitro cultured normal human epidermal keratinocytes had surprisingly high levels of ferritin when compared to immortalized human breast epithelial MCF-10A cells or human liver HepG2 cancer cells. Our results indicate that skin is a cellular repository of iron and that menopause increases iron in skin and, thus, may contribute to the manifestation of accelerated skin aging and photo aging after menopause.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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