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Skin glow reveals onset of diabetes

07 Oct 2004

Fluorescence spectroscopy detects chemicals in the skin that relate to diabetes.

Analysis of fluorescence from skin may provide a new convenient way of detecting the onset of diabetes. That's the conclusion of a team from Albuquerque-based firm InLight Solutions and the University of South Carolina (Optics Express 12 4496).

It has just finished an in-vitro study with samples of pig skin and found a correlation between the amount of visible fluorescence from the skin's collagen and the concentration of a family of chemicals called AGEs [advanced glycation endproducts]. The result is important because AGEs are known to build up more rapidly in the tissue of people suffering from diabetes.

"We believe that this non-invasive technique will be able to detect early AGE accumulation during the phase of the disease often denoted as pre-diabetes," Woody Ediger from InLight told Optics.org. "In addition, these results suggest that the technique may be applicable to AGE quantification in vivo and thus be useful for detection and diagnosis of type II diabetes."

In the experiment, fluorescence was collected from various skin specimens that had been placed in solutions with different glucose concentrations for a period of five weeks. A research-grade spectromter and a fiber-optic probe containing a total of 62 fibers (31 illumination and 31 collection) were used to make the measurements.

The samples were excited with ultraviolet light between 315 and 385 nm with the fluorescence being captured at either a fixed wavelength of 400 nm or a range (340 to 500 nm).

The team is now in the process of refining its equipment and is keen to start trials with human skin. "We are currently designing and fabricating an optimized optical probe," said Ediger. "We will then validate the probe in phantoms and conduct a subject study to evaluate AGE measurement accuracy in humans."

Oliver Graydon is editor of Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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