Biological effects of glycolic acid on dermal matrix metabolism mediated by dermal fibroblasts and epidermal keratinocytes

Exp Dermatol. 2003;12 Suppl 2:57-63. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0625.12.s2.9.x.


Glycolic acid (GA), one of the alpha-hydroxy acids, is widely used as an agent for chemical peeling. Although there are several reports about the clinical effects of GA in the literature, its biological mechanism remains mostly unclear, and there are only a few reports about its effects on skin rejuvenation mediated by keratinocytes. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of GA on the dermal matrix metabolism of keratinocytes and fibroblasts using in vitro and ex vivo systems. Our study shows that GA not only directly accelerates collagen synthesis by fibroblasts, but it also modulates matrix degradation and collagen synthesis through keratinocyte-released cytokines. We confirm that IL-1alpha is one of the primary mediators for matrix degradation released from keratinocytes after GA treatment. These results suggest that GA contributes to the recovery of photodamaged skin through various actions, depending on the skin cell type.

MeSH terms

  • Dermis / cytology
  • Dermis / drug effects
  • Dermis / metabolism*
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / drug effects
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Fibroblasts / physiology*
  • Glycolates / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*


  • Glycolates
  • glycolic acid