Autophagy Declines with Premature Skin Aging resulting in Dynamic Alterations in Skin Pigmentation and Epidermal Differentiation

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Aug 9;21(16):5708. doi: 10.3390/ijms21165708.


Autophagy is a membrane traffic system that provides sustainable degradation of cellular components for homeostasis, and is thus considered to promote health and longevity, though its activity declines with aging. The present findings show deterioration of autophagy in association with premature skin aging. Autophagy flux was successfully determined in skin tissues, which demonstrated significantly decreased autophagy in hyperpigmented skin such as that seen in senile lentigo. Furthermore, an exacerbated decline in autophagy was confirmed in xerotic hyperpigmentation areas, accompanied by severe dehydration and a barrier defect, which showed correlations with skin physiological conditions. The enhancement of autophagy in skin ex vivo ameliorated skin integrity, including pigmentation and epidermal differentiation. The present results indicate that the restoration of autophagy can contribute to improving premature skin aging by various intrinsic and extrinsic factors via the normalization of protein homeostasis.

Keywords: aging; autophagy; hyperpigmentation; keratinocyte; melanosome; skin.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging, Premature / metabolism
  • Aging, Premature / physiopathology
  • Autophagy / genetics
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Line
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Epidermis / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • Lentigo / genetics
  • Lentigo / metabolism
  • Lentigo / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ribosomal Proteins / genetics
  • Ribosomal Proteins / metabolism
  • S-Phase Kinase-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • S-Phase Kinase-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin / physiopathology*
  • Skin Aging / genetics
  • Skin Aging / physiology*
  • Skin Pigmentation / genetics
  • Skin Pigmentation / physiology*


  • RPLP0 protein, human
  • Ribosomal Proteins
  • S-Phase Kinase-Associated Proteins