Quantitative evaluation of chronological ageing and photoageing in vivo: studies on skin echogenicity and thickness

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Abstract

Summary

Skin ageing is divided into chronological ageing and photoageing due to the cumulative effects of solar ultraviolet radiation. It is, however, difficult to measure the degree of photoageing and chronological ageing in humans in vivo. Here, we have evaluated the usefulness of ultrasonography for measurement of chronological ageing and photoageing in vivo. Twenty megahertz ultrasonography was performed in 90 individuals (29 men, 61 women, age 18-94) to describe age-related changes in sun-exposed regions with different levels of sun exposure (dorsal and ventral forearm, forehead, ankle) and non-exposed buttock skin. Skin thickness and skin echogenicity in different layers of the dermis were measured in ultrasound images. Additionally, cutaneous photodamage was scored clinically. Age-related changes were dependent on body site as well as layer of the dermis. A progressive, age-related decrease in echogenicity of the upper dermis was found in sun-exposed regions (dorsal forearm, forehead), but not in moderately exposed regions (ventral forearm, ankle). In the buttock an increase in echogenicity was observed. The echogenicity of the lower dermis increased in all examined sites. Skin thickness increased with age in the forehead and buttock, but decreased in the extremity skin. Our findings show that photoageing causes a decrease in echogenicity in the upper dermis. In contrast, chronological ageing is associated with an increase in echogenicity in the lower dermis. Although both increases and decreases in skin thickness were observed in different anatomical regions, there was no general relationship between skin thickness and age. Dermal echogenicity was deemed valuable for in vivo study of chronological ageing and photoageing.

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