Introduction to skin aging

J Tissue Viability. 2017 Feb;26(1):37-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jtv.2016.03.002. Epub 2016 Mar 14.


Cutaneous science has seen considerable development in the last 25 years, in part due to the Omics revolution, and the appreciation that this organ is hardwired into the body's key neuro-immuno-endocrine axes. Moreover, there is greater appreciation of how stratification of skin disorders will permit more targeted and more effective treatments. Against this has been how the remarkable extension in the average human life-span, though in the West at least, this parallels worrying increases in lifestyle-associated conditions like diabetes, skin cancer etc. These demographic trends bring greater urgency to finding clinical solutions for numerous age-related deficits in skin function caused by extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Mechanisms for aging skin include the actions of reactive oxygen species (ROS), mtDNA mutations, and telomere shortening, as well as hormonal changes. We have also significantly improved our understanding of how to harness the skin's considerable regenerative capacity e.g., via its remarkable investment of stem cell subpopulations. In this way we hope to develop new strategies to selectively target the skin's capacity to undergo optimal wound repair and regeneration. Here, the unsung hero of the skin regenerative power may be the humble hair follicle, replete with its compliment of epithelial, mesenchymal, neural and other stem cells. This review introduces the topic of human skin aging, with a focus on how maintenance of function in this complex multi-cell type organ is key for retaining quality of life into old age.

Keywords: Aging; Dermis; Epidermis; Photoaging; Skin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Hair
  • Humans
  • Nails
  • Skin
  • Skin Aging*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena
  • Sunlight / adverse effects