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J Invest Dermatol. 1995 Aug;105(2):285-90.

Reduced type I and type III procollagens in photodamaged adult human skin.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor 48109, USA.


We have quantitatively assessed the relation between type I and type III procollagen precursor levels and the severity of clinical photodamage in human skin. Levels of procollagen, pN collagen (collagen without the carbroxypropeptide), and/or pC collagen (collagen without the aminopropeptide) were determined by radioimmunoassay, Western blot, and immunohistology in punch biopsy specimens from mildly and severely photodamaged forearm skin and from sunprotected underarm and buttock skin of the same subjects. Collagen precursor levels in forearm and underarm skin were expressed relative to buttock levels for comparison. In the mildly photodamaged group, collagen precursors in the forearm did not differ from those in the underarm by any measurement, except for type I collagen precursors measured by radioimmunoassay, which were reduced 16%. In severely photodamaged forearm skin, both type I and type III collagen precursor levels, measured by radioimmunoassay, were significantly reduced (approximately 40%). Western analysis revealed similar significant reductions in type I and type III collagen precursor levels in severely photodamaged forearm skin compared with the sun-protected underarm. Immunohistology localized both type I and III pN collagens predominantly to the extracellular papillary dermis. Relative staining intensities of type I and type III pN collagen were also significantly reduced in severely photodamaged forearm skin. Multiple linear regression modeling of all data demonstrated that reductions in collagen precursor levels were significantly correlated (p < 0.03) with the severity of photodamage, but not with chronologic age. These data demonstrate, by three independent methods, coordinate reductions of both type I and type III collagen precursors in photodamaged human skin, and the degree of reduction correlated with the degree of photodamage. It is likely that such changes in collagen precursors lead to reduced levels and/or altered organization of fibrillar collagen, and thus may contribute to the wrinkled appearance of photodamaged human skin.

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