Chronological ageing and photoageing of the fibroblasts and the dermal connective tissue


: K. Scharffetter-Kochanek, Department of Dermatology, University of Cologne, Joseph-Stelzmann-Str. 9, 50931 Cologne, Germany. Tel.: +49 221 478 6591. Fax: +49 221 478 6438.E-mail:


In recent years, the exposure of human skin to environmental and artificial UV irradiation has increased dramatically. This is due not only to increased solar UV irradiation as a consequence of stratospheric ozone depletion, but also to inappropriate social behaviour with the use of tanning salons still being very popular in the public view. Besides this, leisure activities and a lifestyle that often includes travel to equatorial regions add to the individual annual UV load. In addition to the common long-term detrimental effects such as immunosuppression and skin cancer, the photo-oxidative damage due to energy absorption of UV photons in an oxygenized environment leads to quantitative and qualitative alterations of cells and structural macromolecules of the dermal connective tissue responsible for tensile strength, resilience and stability of the skin. The clinical manifestations of UV/reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced disturbances result in photoaged skin with wrinkle formation, laxity, leathery appearance as well as fragility, impaired wound healing capacities and higher vulnerability. Strategies to prevent or at least minimize ROS-induced photo-ageing and intrinsic ageing of the skin necessarily include protection against UV irradiation and antioxidant homeostasis.