• The histologic effects of topical tretinoin therapy on photodamaged facial skin were investigated in two 24-week, double-blind, randomized, vehicle-controlled studies involving 533 subjects at eight US centers. Three concentrations of tretinoin (0.05%, 0.01%, and 0.001%) in a new emollient cream were studied. Pretherapy and posttherapy biopsy specimens from the periorbital (crow's foot) area were examined by conventional light microscopy and computerized image analysis. Four significant dose-dependent differences from vehicle were found in the tretinoin groups: increased epidermal thickness, increased granular layer thickness, decreased melanin content, and stratum corneum compaction. There was no significant difference between 0.001% tretinoin and the vehicle, and no obvious dermal changes were detected in any group. The four epidermal changes in tretinointreated skin establish the biologic activity of the new emollient cream formulation and may partially account for the clinical improvements in photodamage observed in the same group of subjects.
(Arch Dermatol. 1991;127:666-672)