Aging- and photoaging-dependent changes of enzymic and nonenzymic antioxidants in the epidermis and dermis of human skin in vivo

J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Nov;117(5):1212-7. doi: 10.1046/j.0022-202x.2001.01469.x.


This is a comprehensive study of the changes in major antioxidant enzymes and antioxidant molecules during intrinsic aging and photoaging processes in the epidermis and dermis of human skin in vivo. We show that the activities of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase are not changed during these processes in human skin in vivo. Interestingly, the activity of catalase was significantly increased in the epidermis of photoaged (163%) and naturally aged (118%) skin (n = 9), but it was significantly lower in the dermis of photoaged (67% of the young skin level) and naturally aged (55%) skin compared with young (n = 7) skin. The activity of glutathione reductase was significantly higher (121%) in naturally aged epidermis. The concentration of alpha-tocopherol was significantly lower in the epidermis of photoaged (56% of young skin level) and aged (61%) skin, but this was not found to be the case in the dermis. Ascorbic acid levels were lower in both epidermis (69% and 61%) and dermis (63% and 70%) of photoaged and naturally aged skin, respectively. Gluta thione concentrations were also lower. Uric acid did not show any significant changes. Our results suggest that the components of the antioxidant defense system in human skin are probably regulated in a complex manner during the intrinsic aging and photoaging processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Dermis / metabolism
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin Aging / physiology*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Antioxidants
  • Oxidoreductases