Regular exposure of facial skin to sunlight promotes wrinkle formation; ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes the skin to harden and lose its elasticity. To study UV damage to the skin in vitro, a short-term in vitro photoaging model is required. Hence, the UV transmittance of excised human skin was measured. Changes in elasticity in the cheeks of humans of different ages were investigated. Moreover, changes in the hardness and elasticity of collagen gels following UV exposure were investigated. UV rays penetrated the upper layer of the dermis and UVA (330 nm) rays penetrated approximately 1.6 times farther than UVB (310 nm) rays. A correlation between age and lower cheek elasticity was observed. Upon exposure to UV rays, collagen gels hardened and their elasticity decreased; UVA rays exhibited a stronger effect than UVB rays. Wavelengths of 300–340 nm caused hardening and reduced elasticity of collagen gels; 330-nm radiation showed the most pronounced effect. These effects were not observed upon exposure to UV wavelengths over 350 nm. Investigating the UV-hardening mechanism of collagen showed increased tyrosine crosslinks (dityrosines) in the in vitro model of photodamage to collagen, suggesting that dityrosine formation contributes to hardening and reduced elasticity of collagen in photoaged skin.
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