Visualization of Keratin with Diffuse Reflectance and Autofluorescence Imaging and Nonlinear Optical Microscopy in a Rare Keratinopathic Ichthyosis

Sensors (Basel). 2021 Feb 5;21(4):1105. doi: 10.3390/s21041105.


Keratins are one of the main fluorophores of the skin. Keratinization disorders can lead to alterations in the optical properties of the skin. We set out to investigate a rare form of keratinopathic ichthyosis caused by KRT1 mutation with two different optical imaging methods. We used a newly developed light emitting diode (LED) based device to analyze autofluorescence signal at 405 nm excitation and diffuse reflectance at 526 nm in vivo. Mean autofluorescence intensity of the hyperkeratotic palmar skin was markedly higher in comparison to the healthy control (162.35 vs. 51.14). To further assess the skin status, we examined samples from affected skin areas ex vivo by nonlinear optical microscopy. Two-photon excited fluorescence and second-harmonic generation can visualize epidermal keratin and dermal collagen, respectively. We were able to visualize the structure of the epidermis and other skin changes caused by abnormal keratin formation. Taken together, we were able to show that such imaging modalities are useful for the diagnosis and follow-up of keratinopathic diseases.

Keywords: KRT1; LED; autofluorescence; diffuse reflectance; epidermolytic ichthyosis; histopathology; hyperkeratosis; keratin; multiphoton microscopy; nonlinear microscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Hyperkeratosis, Epidermolytic*
  • Keratins*
  • Male
  • Nonlinear Optical Microscopy
  • Optical Imaging
  • Skin


  • Keratins