Damage to the skin extracellular matrix (ECM) is the hallmark of long-term exposure to solar UV radiation. The aim of our study was to investigate the changes induced in unexposed human skin in vivo after single or repeated (five times a week for 6 weeks) exposure to 1 minimal erythemal dose (MED) of UV solar-simulated radiation. Morphological and biochemical analyses were used to evaluate the structural ECM components and the balance between the degrading enzymes and their physiologic inhibitors. A three-fold increase in matrix metalloproteinase 2 messenger RNA (mRNA) (P < 0.02, unexposed versus exposed) was observed after both single and repeated exposures. Fibrillin 1 mRNA level was increased by chronic exposure (P < 0.02) and unaltered by a single MED. On the contrary, a single MED significantly enhanced mRNA levels of interleukin-1α (IL-1α), IL-1β (P < 0.02) and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (P < 0.05). Immunohistochemistry demonstrated a significant decrease in Type-I procollagen localized just below the dermal–epidermal junction in both types of exposed sites. At the same location, the immunodetected tenascin was significantly enhanced, whereas a slight increase in Type-III procollagen deposits was also observed in chronically exposed areas. Although we were unable to observe any change in elastic fibers in chronically exposed buttock skin, a significant increase in lysozyme and alpha-1 antitrypsin deposits on these fibers was observed. These results demonstrate the existence of a differential regulation, after chronic exposure compared with an acute one, of some ECM components and inflammatory mediators.
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Vol. 79 • No. 3