Reference values for skin microanatomy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of ex vivo studies

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Abstract

Background

Few studies have characterized reference values of normal human skin microanatomy parameters.

Objective

To quantify histologic measurements of epidermal thickness, melanocyte density, hair follicle density, and eccrine gland density as a function of age and anatomic site.

Method

We searched the PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane databases for articles published through May 25, 2017. Two reviewers independently screened 2016 articles; 327 relevant articles and 151 additional articles found via forward or reference citations underwent full-text review by 1 of 4 reviewers for relevance, data extraction, and critical appraisal. Weighted averages, meta-analysis, and meta-regression were used in statistical analysis.

Results

A total of 56 articles were included; when all anatomic locations were used, the overall estimates for epidermal thickness, melanocyte density, hair follicle density, and eccrine gland density were 99.75 μm (95% confidence interval [CI], 83.25-116.25), 955.05 cells/mm2 (95% CI. 880.89-1029.21), 1.40 hairs/mm2 (95% CI. 0.91-1.89), and 1.28 glands/mm2 (95% CI. 0.91-1.64), respectively.

Limitations

There was significant data heterogeneity across studies, possibly because of differences in histological techniques and absence of standardized microanatomy definitions.

Conclusions

We established summary estimates for normal human skin microanatomy parameters.

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