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J Am Acad Dermatol. 1984 Jul;11(1):64-72.

Anetoderma: biochemical and ultrastructural demonstration of an elastin defect in the skin of three patients.


Three patients with localized cutaneous lesions characteristic of anetoderma were studied. Clinically, the onset of the disease was between the ages of 17 and 25, and numerous flaccid, saclike skin lesions developed over several subsequent years. Histologically, the lesions were characterized by paucity and fragmentation of the elastic fibers. Electron microscopy demonstrated that the elastic fibers, both in papillary and deep reticular dermis in the lesional skin, were fragmented and irregular in appearance. The concentration of elastin, determined by a radioimmunoassay of desmosine, an elastin-specific cross-link compound, was markedly reduced in the lesions, as compared with unaffected skin from the same patients or with normal skin from unrelated control subjects. In contrast, the concentrations of hydroxyproline, an index of collagen, or deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a measure of cellularity, were not changed in the lesions. Thus, the results indicate that in the three patients studied, the elastic fibers are defective and reduced in quantity. These observations suggest that the deficiency of elastin in the dermis may lead to development of the cutaneous lesions of anetoderma.

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