Objective To examine the effect of topical oestradiol on skin collagen and elastin.
Subjects Twelve postmenopausal women, aged 52 to 76 years.
Interventions Topical oestradiol treatment on the skin of lower abdomen and the vehicle only on the contralateral site; once a day for three months.
Main outcome measures The content of skin hydroxyproline; the levels of the carboxyterminal propeptide of human type I procollagen (PICP) and of the aminoterminal propetide of human type III procollagen (PIIINP).The number and the quality of collagen and elastic microfibrils.
Results The amount of hydroxyproline in the skin significantly (P= 0.012) increased from 11.8 to 16.3 pgμ(38 %) during oestradiol treatment. After treatment, the PICP level in the blister fluid was significantly (P= 0.024) higher on the treated site than on the control site. Also the level of PIIINP increased, but the change was not statistically significant. Electron microscopy showed morphologic improvement of elastic and collagen fibres, while the number of oxytalan and elaunin fibres was unchanged in light microscopy.
Conclusions Topical oestradiol treatment increases the amount of skin collagen. The increase in the level of PICP and PIIINP in skin blister fluid indicates that oestradiol treatment stimulates collagen synthesis. Furthermore, our results show that topical ostradiol treatment has a greater influence on the amount than on the quality of skin collagen. On the contrary, in elastic tissue the oestradiol treatment will only result in morphologic improvement.