Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

No more lying about your age: Scientists can now gauge skin’s true age with new laser technique

Date:
December 13, 2012
Source:
Optical Society of America
Summary:
While most of us can recognize the signs of lost youth when we peer into the mirror each morning, scientists do not have a standardized way to measure the extent of age damage in skin. Now a group of Taiwanese researchers has used a specialized microscope to peer harmlessly beneath the skin surface to measure natural age-related changes in the sizes of skin cells.

This series of harmonic generation microscopy images shows the skin cells of a 24-year-old subject at increasing depths, ranging from the outermost layer of skin (a) to approximately 300 millionths of a meter deep (f). The magenta areas, generated from third harmonics, show skin cells and their nuclei. The green areas, generated from second harmonics, show fibers made of the protein collagen.
Credit: Biomedical Optics Express

Wrinkles, dryness, and a translucent and fragile appearance are hallmarks of old skin, caused by the natural aging of skin cells. But while most of us can recognize the signs of lost youth when we peer into the mirror each morning, scientists do not have a standardized way to measure the extent of age damage in skin. Now a group of Taiwanese researchers has used a specialized microscope to peer harmlessly beneath the skin surface to measure natural age-related changes in the sizes of skin cells.

The results, which are published in the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express, can be used to study the general phenomenon of skin aging and may help provide an index for measuring the effectiveness of 'anti-aging' skin products.

In the study, Chi-Kuang Sun, a distinguished professor at National Taiwan University and chief director of the university's Molecular Imaging Center, along with medical researcher and dermatologist Yi-Hua Liao and colleagues, evaluated 52 subjects ranging in age from 19 to 79 years old. The researchers focused a brief burst of infrared laser light into the skin of the subjects' inner forearms, an area that is generally protected from sun damage, which accelerates natural aging. The beam penetrated to a depth of about 300 millionths of a meter, or approximately where the epidermis (the upper layer of skin) and the dermis (the lower layer) meet.

The researchers used a technique known as harmonic generation microscopy (HGM), which has previously been used to study developing embryos. In the procedure, a concentrated beam of photons is sent into a material. The photons naturally oscillate at a particular frequency, and as they interact with the material, they generate "harmonics" -- vibrations that are multiples of the original frequency, which are characteristic of the material structure and properties. For example, the second harmonic is twice the original frequency and the third harmonic is three times the original frequency. In an imaging system, harmonics can reveal different structures at very high resolution. In their study, the team scanned for reflected second and third harmonic photons, and from those measurements, produced a high-resolution 3-D map of the tissue that revealed structures within the skin cells.

Natural aging, the scanning showed, caused a significant increase in the overall size of cells known as basal keratinocytes -- the most common cells in the outermost layer of skin -- as well as in the sizes of their nuclei. However, other types of skin cells, known as granular cells, did not show a similar pattern. Thus, says Sun, the relative changes in the two types of cells can serve as an index for scoring natural or "intrinsic" skin aging -the aging of skin caused by programmed developmental or genetic factors.

"No one has ever seen through a person's skin to determine his or her age from their skin," says Sun. "Our finding serves as a potential index for skin age."

A skin age index would provide a standardized, quantitative scale that could be used rate the true "age" of skin, from young (less age-related damage) to old (more age-related damage). The scale could give doctors another tool to monitor the overall health of skin -- by investigating whether the skin of certain individuals or populations ages faster or slower than average, tracking the aging of an individual's skin over time, or testing how effective anti-aging treatments are at slowing the rate of skin aging.

Intrinsic, or chronological, aging is different from extrinsic aging, which is caused primarily by sun exposure. "There are a lot of extrinsic factors that can accelerate the aging process, such as smoking, ultraviolet light, and stress," says Sun. The researchers found that the extent of extrinsic skin aging in their study subjects varied depending on occupation, personal habits, and skin type, but because the researchers looked at skin on the sun-protected inner forearm, their findings provide a measure of the primarily genetically-based intrinsic skin aging.

"This could provide an index for someone who cares about the health of their skin and might also provide a test-bed for measuring the effectiveness of 'anti-aging' skin products," Sun says. "Of course," he and Liao joke, "you could set an HGM scanner at the entrance to a bar, so you can know whether a person is over 21 years old and permitted for entry."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Optical Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yi-Hua Liao, Szu-Yu Chen, Sin-Yo Chou, Pei-Hsun Wang, Ming-Rung Tsai, Chi-Kuang Sun. Determination of chronological aging parameters in epidermal keratinocytes by in vivo harmonic generation microscopy. Biomedical Optics Express, 2012; 4 (1): 77 DOI: 10.1364/BOE.4.000077

Cite This Page:

Optical Society of America. "No more lying about your age: Scientists can now gauge skin’s true age with new laser technique." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213111825.htm>.
Optical Society of America. (2012, December 13). No more lying about your age: Scientists can now gauge skin’s true age with new laser technique. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213111825.htm
Optical Society of America. "No more lying about your age: Scientists can now gauge skin’s true age with new laser technique." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213111825.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins