General theory of skin reinforcement

Ilja L. Kruglikov, Philipp E. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Macroscopic mechanical properties of human skin in vivo cannot be considered independent of adjacent subcutaneous white adipose tissue (sWAT). The layered system skin/ sWAT appears as the hierarchical structural composite in which single layers behave as fiber-reinforced structures. Effective macroscopic mechanical properties of such composites are mainly determined either by the properties of the skin or by those of the sWAT, dependent on the conditions of mechanical loading. Mechanical interactions between the skin and the adjacent sWAT associated with a mismatch in the mechanical moduli of these two layers can lead to production of the skin wrinkles. Reinforcement of the composite skin/ sWAT can take place in different ways. It can be provided through reorientation of collagen fibers under applied loading, through production of new bonds between existing collagen fibers and through induction of additional collagen structures. Effectiveness of this type of reinforcement is strongly dependent on the type of mechanical loading. Different physical interventions induce the reinforcement of at least one of these two layers, thus increasing the effective macroscopic stiffness of the total composite. At the same time, the standalone reinforcement of the skin appears to be less effective to achieve a delay or a reduction of the apparent signs of skin aging relative to the reinforcement of the sWAT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0182865
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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