Role of Age-Associated Alterations of the Dermal Extracellular Matrix Microenvironment in Human Skin Aging: A Mini-Review

Gerontology. 2015;61(5):427-34. doi: 10.1159/000371708. Epub 2015 Feb 4.


Human skin is largely composed of a collagen-rich connective tissue, which provides structural and functional support. The collagen-rich connective tissue is produced, organized, and maintained by dermal fibroblasts. During aging, dermal collagen fibrils undergo progressive loss and fragmentation, leading to thin and structurally weakened skin. Age-related alterations of collagen fibrils impairs skin structure and function and creates a tissue microenvironment that promotes age-related skin diseases, such as delayed wound healing and skin cancer development. This mini-review describes cellular mechanisms that give rise to self-perpetuating, collagen fibril fragmentation that creates an age-associated dermal microenvironment, which contributes to decline of human skin function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology
  • Aging / physiology
  • Cellular Microenvironment
  • Connective Tissue / pathology
  • Connective Tissue / physiopathology
  • Cysteine-Rich Protein 61 / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / pathology
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Signal Transduction
  • Skin Aging / pathology*
  • Skin Aging / physiology*
  • Skin Diseases / etiology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • CCN1 protein, human
  • Cysteine-Rich Protein 61
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases