Is skin autofluorescence (SAF) representative of dermal advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) in dark skin? A pilot study

Isabella M. Atzeni*, Jeltje Boersema, Hendri H. Pas, Gilles F. H. Diercks, Jean L. J. M. Scheijen, Casper G. Schalkwijk, Douwe J. Mulder, Piet van der Zee, Andries J. Smit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number05364
Number of pages7
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Diabetes
  • Pathology
  • Internal medicine
  • Clinical research
  • Diagnostics
  • Advanced glycation endproducts
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Skin autofluorescence


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