Aims: Non-invasively assessed skin autofluorescence (SAF) measures advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) in the dermis. SAF correlates with dermal AGEs in Caucasians and Asians, but studies in dark-skinned subjects are lacking. In this pilot we aimed to assess whether SAF signal is representative of intrinsic fluorescence (IF) and AGE accumulation in dark skin.
Methods: Skin biopsies were obtained in 12 dark-skinned subjects (6 healthy subjects, median age 22 years; 6 diabetes mellitus (DM) subjects, 65 years). SAF was measured with the AGE Reader, IF using confocal microscopy, and AGE distribution with specific antibodies. CML and MG-H1 were quantified with UPLC-MS/MS and pentosidine with HPLC and fluorescent detection.
Results: SAF correlated with IF from the dermis (405nm, r = 0.58, p < 0.05), but not with CML (r = 0.54, p = 0.07). CML correlated with IF from the dermis (405nm, r = 0.90, p < 0.01). UV reflectance and the coefficient of variation of SAF were negatively correlated (r = -0.80, p < 0.01). CML and MG-H1 were predominantly present around blood vessels, in collagen and fibroblasts in the dermis.
Conclusion: This proof of concept study is the first to compare non-invasive SAF with AGE levels measured in skin biopsies in dark-skinned subjects. SAF did not correlate with individual AGEs from biopsies, but was associated with IF. However, the intra-individual variance was high, limiting its application in dark-skinned subjects on an individual basis.