While much is known about genes that promote aging, little is known about genes that protect against or prevent aging, particularly in human skin. The main objective of this study was to perform an unbiased, whole transcriptome search for genes that associate with intrinsic skin youthfulness. To accomplish this, healthy women (n = 122) of European descent, ages 18-89 years with Fitzpatrick skin type I/II were examined for facial skin aging parameters and clinical covariates, including smoking and ultraviolet exposure. Skin youthfulness was defined as the top 10% of individuals whose assessed skin aging features were most discrepant with their chronological ages. Skin biopsies from sun-protected inner arm were subjected to 3'-end sequencing for expression quantification, with results verified by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Unbiased clustering revealed gene expression signatures characteristic of older women with skin youthfulness (n = 12) compared to older women without skin youthfulness (n = 33), after accounting for gene expression changes associated with chronological age alone. Gene set analysis was performed using Genomica open-access software. This study identified a novel set of candidate skin youthfulness genes demonstrating differences between SY and non-SY group, including pleckstrin homology like domain family A member 1 (PHLDA1) (p = 2.4x10-5), a follicle stem cell marker, and hyaluronan synthase 2-anti-sense 1 (HAS2-AS1) (p = 0.00105), a non-coding RNA that is part of the hyaluronan synthesis pathway. We show that immunologic gene sets are the most significantly altered in skin youthfulness (with the most significant gene set p = 2.4x10-5), suggesting the immune system plays an important role in skin youthfulness, a finding that has not previously been recognized. These results are a valuable resource from which multiple future studies may be undertaken to better understand the mechanisms that promote skin youthfulness in humans.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0165913
View details for Web of Science ID 000387724300066
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5102383