Background: Reduced cell spreading is a prominent feature of aged dermal fibroblasts in human skin in vivo. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) common deletion has been reported to play a role in the human aging process, however the relationship between age-related reduced cell spreading and mtDNA common deletion has not yet been reported.
Results: To examine mtDNA common deletion in the dermis of aged human skin, the epidermis was removed from full-thickness human skin samples using cryostat. mtDNA common deletion was significantly elevated in the dermis of both naturally aged and photoaged human skin in vivo. To examine the relationship between age-related reduced cell spreading and mtDNA common deletion, we modulated the shape of dermal fibroblasts by disrupting the actin cytoskeleton. Reduced cell spreading was associated with a higher level of mtDNA common deletion and was also accompanied by elevated levels of endogenous reactive oxygen species (ROS). Boosting cellular antioxidant capacity by using antioxidants was found to be protective against mtDNA common deletion associated with reduced cell spreading.
Conclusion: mtDNA common deletion is highly prevalent in the dermis of both naturally aged and photoaged human skin in vivo. mtDNA common deletion in response to reduced cell spreading is mediated, at least in part, by elevated oxidative stress in human dermal fibroblasts. These data extend current understanding of the mitochondrial theory of aging by identifying the connection between mtDNA common deletion and age-related reduction of cell spreading.