Characterization and mechanisms of photoageing-related changes in skin. Damages of basement membrane and dermal structures

Exp Dermatol. 2016 Aug:25 Suppl 3:14-9. doi: 10.1111/exd.13085.


Sun-exposed skin is characterized by superficial changes such as wrinkles, sagging and pigmentary changes, and also many internal changes in the structure and function of epidermis, basement membrane (BM) and dermis. These changes (so-called photoageing) are predominantly induced by the ultraviolet (UV) component of sunlight. Epidermis of UV-irradiated skin produced several enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), urinary plasminogen activator (uPA)/plasmin and heparanase, which degrade dermal collagen fibres and elastic fibres in the dermis, and components of epidermal BM. The BM at the dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ) controls dermal-epidermal signalling and plays an important role in the maintenance of a healthy epidermis and dermis. BM is repetitively damaged in sun-exposed skin compared with unexposed skin, leading to epidermal and dermal deterioration and accelerated skin ageing. UV exposure also induces an increase in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), an angiogenic factor, while thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1), an anti-angiogenic factor, is decreased; these changes induce angiogenesis in papillary dermis with increased migration of elastase-positive leucocytes, leading to dermal elastic fibre damage. Elastic fibres, such as oxytalan fibres in papillary dermis, are associated with not only skin resilience, but also skin surface texture, and elastic fibre formation by fibroblasts is facilitated by increased expression of fibulin-5. Thus, induction of fibulin-5 expression is a damage-repair mechanism, and fibulin-5 is an early marker of photoaged skin. UV-induced skin damage is cumulative and leads to premature ageing of skin. However, appropriate daily skincare may ameliorate photoageing by inhibiting processes causing damage and enhancing repair processes.

Keywords: angiogenesis; basement membrane; fibulin-5; heparanase; laminin 332; oxytalan fibre; thrombospondin-1; uPA/plasmin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basement Membrane / pathology
  • Basement Membrane / physiopathology
  • Basement Membrane / radiation effects
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Dermis / pathology
  • Dermis / physiopathology
  • Dermis / radiation effects
  • Elastic Tissue / metabolism
  • Epidermis / pathology
  • Epidermis / physiopathology
  • Epidermis / radiation effects
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Fibrinolysin / metabolism
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases, Membrane-Associated / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / radiation effects
  • Plasminogen Activators / metabolism
  • Skin Aging / pathology*
  • Skin Aging / physiology
  • Skin Aging / radiation effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • FBLN5 protein, human
  • Collagen
  • heparanase
  • Glucuronidase
  • Plasminogen Activators
  • Fibrinolysin
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases, Membrane-Associated