Photoaging and topical tretinoin: therapy, pathogenesis, and prevention

Arch Dermatol. 1997 Oct;133(10):1280-4.


Repeated exposure to UV radiation from the sun causes premature skin aging. This photoaging is characterized by wrinkles, mottled pigmentations, dry and rough skin, and loss of skin tone. Since the clinical demonstration that the use of topical tretinoin can improve photoaged skin, a great deal of knowledge that may explain wrinkle effacement has been acquired. Central to this pursuit has been dermal collagen. In this article, we summarize evidence (mainly from humans) that implicates a deficiency of superficial dermal collagen as the cause of the dermal aspects of photoaging. In addition, a mechanism through which UV radiation can lead to reduced collagen is presented. Through our understanding of the pathophysiological mechanism of photoaging, our ability to treat and possibly prevent this skin condition is enhanced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Collagen / drug effects
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Collagen / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Keratolytic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin / physiopathology
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Skin Aging / drug effects*
  • Skin Aging / radiation effects
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy
  • Skin Diseases / etiology
  • Skin Diseases / prevention & control
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects
  • Skin Pigmentation / radiation effects
  • Sunlight / adverse effects
  • Tretinoin / administration & dosage
  • Tretinoin / therapeutic use*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Tretinoin
  • Collagen