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Exp Dermatol. 1995 Jun;4(3):146-54.

Ultrastructural effects of topical tretinoin on dermo-epidermal junction and papillary dermis in photodamaged skin. A controlled study.

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Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, MA 02118, USA.


We examined the effects of daily topical application of 0.05% tretinoin cream on photodamaged Caucasian facial skin by electron microscopy. Specimens obtained pretreatment, after 6 and 12 months of tretinoin therapy (20 patients), and after 6 months of vehicle treatment (5 patients) were compared in a blinded fashion, with special attention to the dermoepidermal junction and papillary dermis. Baseline specimens disclosed various degrees of damage including reduplication of basal lamina, smudging and sparsity of collagen fibers, and nodular arrangement of degenerated microfibrils in the papillary dermis. No significant changes were observed at 6 months in the papillary dermis of either tretinoin-treated or vehicle-treated patients. After 12 months of tretinoin treatment, however, disorganized collagen fibers, which were conspicuous in 11 patients at baseline, were replaced by new well-organized collagen fibers in a wavy pattern in 6 patients. In addition, the amount of nodularly degenerated microfibrillar material decreased in 15 of 18 patients with this finding at baseline. In contrast, no significant change was noted in the number of anchoring fibrils per unit length of the lamina densa. These observations provide further evidence that topical treatment with 0.05% tretinoin produces papillary dermal reconstruction, for which more than 6 months of application were required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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