Tobacco smoke causes premature skin aging


      Smoking tobacco is the most preventable cause of morbidity and is responsible for more than three million deaths a year worldwide. In addition to a strong association with a number of systemic diseases, smoking is also associated with many dermatological conditions, including poor wound healing, premature skin aging, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, oral cancer, acne, psoriasis, and hair loss. This review focuses on the effects of smoking on premature skin aging. It has been long established that smoking has deleterious effects on skin. Epidemiological studies indicate that smoking is an important environmental factor in premature skin aging. In vitro studies indicate that tobacco smoke extract impairs the production of collagen and increases the production of tropoelastin and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), which degrade matrix proteins, and also causes an abnormal production of elastosis material. Smoking increases MMP levels, which leads to the degradation of collagen, elastic fibers, and proteoglycans, suggesting an imbalance between biosynthesis and degradation in dermal connective tissue metabolism. Reactive oxygen species are also involved in tobacco smoke-induced premature skin aging. Scavengers of reactive oxygen species ameliorate the induction of MMP. Tobacco smoke extract also impacts dermal connective tissue in nude mice. Thus, in vitro and in vivo evidence indicates that smoking tobacco leads to accelerated aging of the skin. These findings might be useful to motivate those patients who are more concerned about their appearance than the potential internal damage associated with smoking to stop smoking.


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      Professor Akimichi Morita graduated from Nagoya City University and received his MD degree in 1989. He received his PhD in basic immunology at Aichi Cancer Center. He studied photobiology and photoimmunology under the supervision of Professor Jean Krutmann at Duesseldorf University as a Humboldt Foundation fellow where he discovered UVA1-mediated human T helper cell apoptosis as a fundamental mechanism of UVA1 phototherapy. He also trained under the supervision of Professor Akira Takashima at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and developed a Langerhans cell-targeted vaccination. He has introduced numerous standard phototherapies to Japan. Since 2003, he has been Professor and Chairman of the Department of Geriatric and Environmental Dermatology at Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences. His research interests include phototherapy, cutaneous immunology, and skin aging. He is currently developing a next generation phototherapy device, and was recently appointed as Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Meijo University.