Background: Dietary xylitol has been shown to increase the amounts of newly synthesized collagen, and to decrease fluorescence of the collagenase-soluble fraction in the skin of both healthy and diabetic rats. As in diabetic rats, a decreased rate of collagen synthesis and increased collagen fluorescence has also been detected in the skin of aged rats. We hypothesize that dietary xylitol supplementation may protect against these changes during aging. Objective: The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether a long-term dietary supplementation can protect against the decrease in the amounts of newly synthesized collagen, and against the increase in fluorescence in the collagenase-soluble fraction in the skin of aged rats. Methods: Twenty-four male Sprague-Dawley rats were used in the study. After weaning, the rats were divided into 2 groups of 12 animals. The rats in the control group were fed a basal RM1 diet, while the rats in the experimental group were fed the same diet supplemented with 10% xylitol. After 20 months, the rats were killed and pieces of skin from their dorsal areas were excised. The thickness of the samples was measured with a micrometer screw gauge. The collagen contents of rat skin were measured as hydroxyproline, and glycosylation as fluorescent intensity of collagen. Statistical significances of the differences between the groups were determined using the unpaired t test. Results: No general side effects were detected in the rats during the experimental period. The skin of the xylitol-fed rats was a little thicker than that of the control rats. The hydroxyproline content of the acid-soluble fraction was significantly greater in the xylitol group as compared to the controls. However, there were no significant differences in the hydroxyproline content of the collagenase-soluble fraction between the groups. The fluorescence of the collagenase-soluble fraction was significantly smaller in the xylitol-fed aged rats than in the aged rats fed the basal diet. Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that xylitol caused an increase in the amount of newly synthesized collagen and a decrease in collagen fluorescence in the skin of aged rats.

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