Morphometric skin characteristics dependent on chronological and biological age: The Leiden Longevity Study

Mariette E.C. Waaijer, David A. Gunn, Sharon D. Catt, Michael Van Ginkel, Anton J.M. De Craen, Nicole M. Hudson, Diana Van Heemst, P. Eline Slagboom, Rudi G.J. Westendorp, Andrea B. Maier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The effect of chronological age on skin characteristics is readily visible, and its underlying histological changes have been a field of study for several years. However, the effect of biological age (i.e. a person's rate of ageing compared to their chronological age) on the skin has so far only been studied in facial photographs. Skin biopsies obtained from middle-aged offspring of nonagenarian siblings that are genetically enriched for longevity were compared to their partners who represent the general Dutch population. Though of the same chronological age, the offspring were previously observed to be of a younger biological age than their partners. The biopsies were analysed on several aspects epidermal and elastic fibre morphology. We investigated whether these skin characteristics were dependent on chronological age, familial longevity (the difference between the offspring and partners) and Framingham heart risk scores, adjusted for external stressors. A decreased thickness and flattening of the epidermis as well as an increased amount of elastic fibres in the reticular dermis were observed with chronological age (P < 0.001, P < 0.001 and P = 0.03, respectively), but no effect of familial longevity was found. The Framingham heart risk score was associated with some skin characteristics. A slower rate of skin ageing does not mark offspring from nonagenarian siblings. Epidermal and elastic fibre morphometric characteristics are not a potential marker for familial longevity in middle-aged subjects enriched for familial longevity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1543-1552
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological age
  • Chronological age
  • Elastic fibres
  • Epidermis
  • Familial longevity
  • Skin ageing


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