• Elastic fibers account for 2% of dermal volume and are responsible for normal skin resiliency. We investigated a disorder of the dermal elastic component as the mechanism for the decreased elasticity of skin in myxedema. Skin biopsy specimens were obtained from patients with thyroid diseases and normal subjects matched for age, sex, and biopsy location. Elastic fiber concentration, determined by computerized morphometric analysis of Verhoeff-van Gieson–stained sections, was significantly lower than normal in hypothyroid and pretibial myxedema. The decreased elastin concentration was not a consequence of the glycosaminoglycan infiltration. Ultrastructural studies of myxedematous skin showed wide variability of elastic fiber diameter and decreased microfibrils. Myxedema (hypothyroid and pretibial) is consistently associated with quantitative and qualitative defects of dermal elastic fibers.
(Arch Intern Med 1985;145:117-121)