I see the pattern under your skin

July 31, 2019

Japan -- As the largest organ of the human body our skin is astounding. It protects us from infection, endures radiation, senses temperature, and is flexible enough to withstand our everyday activities. What holds this all together is the protein we all know and love: collagen.

In a paper published in Scientific Reports a team from Japan found for the first time that collagen in the skin is organized in a mesh-like structure, and that elastic fibers -- the connective tissue found in skin -- follows the same orientation.

Since the 1960s, researchers have debated whether skin collagen was arranged randomly or had some kind of ordered orientation -- information vital to understand its pliability for further clinical use.

Due to the skin's pliable nature, researchers inferred that collagen and elastic fibers have some sort of geometric orientation like a rhomboidal net. However, studies failed to demonstrate any organization, which is attributed to the tightly packed nature and complex intertwining of collagen fibers.

"Because the fibers are so tightly packed, it was impossible to determine if their orientation is ordered or random," explains first author Susumu Saito of Kyoto University's School of Medicine. "So, we developed a way to essentially stretch a skin sample on a 2D plane that increases the inter-fiber space of the collagen but retains its core structure."

Using multiphoton microscopy, a technique used to observe living tissue in fine detail, the team found clear evidence that the collagen fibers were arranged in a mesh-like lattice, and not in the clear geometric orientation as previously hypothesized. They even found that the connective tissue know as elastic fibers were also distributed in the same way, something that was previously unobserved.

"There was little information on how elastic fibers and collagen fibers in the skin related to each other. However, it was believed that the recoiling force of elastic fibers leads to the contraction of collagen," explains Saito.

Understanding the geometric organization of fibers in the skin can lead to better insight into the mechanisms underlying human skin pliability that can be applied for future medical use in skin grafts and transplantation.

The team intends to further their research by uncovering the relationship between the collagen network and elastic tissues, and hopes their new technique will be utilized to study the fibrous microarchitecture in other connective tissue networks.
The paper "Combined multiphoton imaging and biaxial tissue extension for quantitative analysis of geometric fiber organization in human reticular dermis" appeared on 23 July 2019 in Scientific Reports, with doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-47213-5

About Kyoto University

Kyoto University is one of Japan and Asia's premier research institutions, founded in 1897 and responsible for producing numerous Nobel laureates and winners of other prestigious international prizes. A broad curriculum across the arts and sciences at both undergraduate and graduate levels is complemented by numerous research centers, as well as facilities and offices around Japan and the world. For more information please see: http://www.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en

Kyoto University

Related Science Articles from Brightsurf:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.

Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.

Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.

World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.

PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.

Read More: Science News and Science Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.