Age-Related Changes in Skin May Contribute to Melanoma Metastases

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine, March 2024

Age-related changes that cause the skin to stiffen and become less elastic may also contribute to higher rates of metastatic skin cancer in older people, according to research by investigators from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

The study, published March 12 in Nature Aging, shows that increased stiffness in aging skin increases the release of a protein called ICAM1. Increased ICAM1 levels stimulate blood vessel growth in the tumor, helping it grow. It also makes the blood vessels “leaky,” enabling tumor cells to escape and spread throughout the body more easily.

“As we age, the stiffness of our skin changes,” explains Ashani Weeraratna, Ph.D., associate director for laboratory research at the Kimmel Cancer Center and professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “That not only has physical implications, but it also has signaling implications and can lead to increases in new blood vessel growth or disruption of blood vessel function.”