Randomized controlled trial of fractionated laser resurfacing on aged skin as prophylaxis against actinic neoplasia

J Clin Invest. 2021 Oct 1;131(19):e150972. doi: 10.1172/JCI150972.


BACKGROUNDThe loss of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) expression in senescent dermal fibroblasts during aging is associated with an increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC). We tested how IGF-1 signaling can influence photocarcinogenesis during chronic UVB exposure to determine if fractionated laser resurfacing (FLR) of aged skin, which upregulates dermal IGF-1 levels, can prevent the occurrence of actinic keratosis (AK) and NMSC.METHODSA human skin/immunodeficient mouse xenografting model was used to test the effects of a small molecule inhibitor of the IGF-1 receptor on chronic UVB radiation. Subsequently, the durability of FLR treatment was tested on a cohort of human participants aged 65 years and older. Finally, 48 individuals aged 60 years and older with considerable actinic damage were enrolled in a prospective randomized clinical trial in which they underwent a single unilateral FLR treatment of one lower arm. Numbers of AKs/NMSCs were recorded on both extremities for up to 36 months in blinded fashion.RESULTSXenografting studies revealed that chronic UVB treatment with a topical IGF-1R inhibitor resulted in a procarcinogenic response. A single FLR treatment was durable in restoring appropriate UVB response in geriatric skin for at least 2 years. FLR resulted in sustained reduction in numbers of AKs and decreased numbers of NMSCs in the treated arm (2 NMSCs) versus the untreated arm (24 NMSCs).CONCLUSIONThe elimination of senescent fibroblasts via FLR reduced the procarcinogenic UVB response of aged skin. Thus, wounding therapies are a potentially effective prophylaxis for managing high-risk populations.TRIAL REGISTRATIONClinicalTrials.gov (NCT03906253).FUNDINGNational Institutes of Health, Veterans Administration.

Keywords: Dermatology; Skin cancer.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratosis, Actinic / prevention & control*
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptor, IGF Type 1 / physiology
  • Skin Aging / radiation effects*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Ultraviolet Rays


  • Receptor, IGF Type 1

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03906253