Industry Insight: Probing Deeper to Further Skin Aging Research

Tracy Wang, Ph.D., Johnson & Johnson
Tracy Wang, Ph.D., Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson can see the future—of skin aging, that is. How? Using a novel imaging technique. Tracy Wang, Ph.D., presented it at the SID meeting last April and describes it here, in an adaptation from our recent podcast interview.

C&T: What is this new imaging technique?

Wang: Multiphoton microscopy, sometimes called two-photon microscopy. Our first objective was to evaluate this technique for the field of skin aging. The second objective was to develop a new algorithm or methodology to better characterize skin aging.

C&T: How does it work?

Wang: We measure z-stacks of multiphoton microscopy images taken from the surface and deep dermis layer of the skin. [Editor’s note: in microscopy terms, z-stacks are calculated, three-dimensional representations of a sample derived noninvasively from optical sections of a specimen.] These volumetric images are collected via two channels: two-photon fluorescence and harmonic generation. This allows us to look at the fiber orientation distributions in the deeper dermis layers of the skin. Using a new algorithm we developed, we can then visualize how aligned (or not) collagen and elastic fibers are in the skin, and how products affect this arrangement.

C&T: What insights can you share from your work?

Wang: Aged skin showed a more single-dominant [less uniform] elastic fiber orientation, whereas younger skin had a more multi-dominant [uniform] arrangement. Interestingly, collagen fibers in aged vs. younger skin did not look much different.

C&T: How is this technique an improvement over existing methods?

Wang: The combination of the two channels allows us to differentiate between the two types of fibers in the skin. There’s no need to use dye labeling to see the contrast between them. You also don’t need to touch the skin or use histology analysis.

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