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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2007 February;142(1):15-23


language: English

Hormones and skin ageing

Zouboulis C. C. 1, 2, Makrantonaki E. 1, 2

1 Department of Dermatology and Immunology Dessau Medical Center, Dessau 2 Laboratory of Biogerontology, Dermato-Pharmacology and Dermato-Endocrinology Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Charité Universitaetsedizin Berlin Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany


The intrinsic human skin ageing is influenced by the genetic predisposition and the hormone status. It reflects degradation processes which also take place also in the other organs of the body. A big part of the somatic parameters which change with ageing involves the skin functions. Hormones are decisively involved with a reduced secretion of pituitary, adrenal, and gonadal glands. The hormonal changes of ageing lead to the development of a specific body and skin phenotype. Each human being has an individual hormone system which can deviate from the standard values. People in the western world currently spend 1/3 of their life (women – menopause) or at least 20 years [men - partial androgen deficiency of the aging man] under estrogen or androgen deficiency, respectively. Further hormones, that decrease with increasing age, are melatonin, growth hormone (GH), dehydroepiandrosterone and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I). In women besides the estrogens progesterone is also reduced in the menopause. Since progesterone controls the androgens, a relative peripheral hyperandrogenism occurs in women with increasing age. Prevention or interruption of the intrinsic ageing process through hormone substitution represents a therapeutic concept which is still not fully explored. Current data show that this concept is realizable through estrogen substitution in the menopause. In male senescence, further extensive studies are necessary before the clinical use of hormonal substitution can be recommended. First hints speak for a positive influence of testosterone substitution in men with secondary hypogonadism. However, there is increasing evidence that GH and IGF-I overtake the functions expected from testosterone in the aged man. IGF-I seems to play a central role in the ageing process. Since the skin has not only a protective function for the organism, but is also an active peripheral endocrine organ, which even releases effective hormones in the circulation, local hormone substitution could become interesting in the future.

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