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Elastic fibers, a major component of the extracellular matrix of the skin, are often exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation throughout mammalian life. We report on an in vitro study of the alterations in bovine nuchal ligament elastic fibers resulting from continuous UV-A exposure by the use of transmission electron microscopy (TEM), histology, mass spectrometry, and solid state 13C NMR methodologies. TEM images reveal distinct cracks in elastic fibers as a result of UV-A irradiation and histological measurements show a disruption in the regular array of elastic fibers present in unirradiated samples; elastic fibers appear shorter, highly fragmented, and thinner after UV-A treatment. Magic angle spinning 13C NMR was applied to investigate possible secondary structural changes or dynamics in the irradiated samples; our spectra reveal no differences between UV-A irradiated and non-irradiated samples. Lastly, MALDI mass spectrometry indicates that the concentration of desmosine, which forms cross-links in elastin, is observed to decrease by 11 % following 9 days of continuous UV-A irradiation, in comparison to unirradiated samples. These alterations presumably play a significant role in the loss of elasticity observed in UV exposed skin.


This article was originally published in Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports, available at doi:

This article is an open access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.



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