Remodelling of fibrillin-rich microfibrils by solar-simulated radiation: Impact of skin ethnicity

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Fibrillin-rich microfibrils (FRMs) constitute integral components of the dermal elastic fibre network with a distinctive ultrastructural 'beads-on-a-string' appearance that can be visualised using atomic force microscopy and characterised by measurement of their length and interbead periodicity. Their deposition within the dermis in photoprotected skin appears to be contingent on skin ethnicity, and influences the ultrastructure of papillary - but not reticular - dermal FRMs. Truncation and depletion of FRMs at the dermal-epidermal junction of skin occurs early in photoageing in people with lightly pigmented skin; a process of accelerated skin ageing that arises due to chronic sun exposure. Accumulation of ultraviolet radiation (UVR)-induced damage, either by the action of enzymes, oxidation or direct photon absorption, results in FRM remodelling and changes to ultrastructure. In the current study, the direct effect of UVR exposure on FRM ultrastructure was assayed by isolating FRMs from the papillary and reticular dermis of photoprotected buttock skin of individuals of either black African or white Northern European ancestry and exposing them to solar-simulated radiation (SSR). Exposure to SSR resulted in significant reduction in inter-bead periodicity for reticular dermis-derived FRMs across both cohorts. In contrast, papillary dermal FRMs exhibited significantly increased inter-bead periodicity, with the magnitude of damage greater for African FRMs, as compared to Northern European FRMs. Our data suggest that FRMs of the dermis should be considered as two distinct populations that differentially accrue damage in response to SSR. Furthermore, papillary dermal FRMs derived from black African subjects show greater change following UVR challenge, when extracted from skin. Future studies should focus on understanding the consequences of UVR exposure in vivo, regardless of skin ethnicity, on the molecular composition of FRMs and how this UVR-induced remodelling may affect the role FRMs play in skin homeostasis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhotochemical and Photobiological Sciences
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 Jun 2020


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