Forty-five Africans with Onchocerca volvulus infection and ten non-infected controls were examined for histological changes in the skin. Both series included young people and persons of advanced age. The following was found: In noninfected subjects, advanced age is associated with damage and a reduction of the fine elastic fibers of the papillary layer, and with a shortening and thickening of the fibers of the reticular layer which are, however, less marked. The degree of the reduction increases with age.
A similar reduction of the fine elastic fibers is caused by O. volvulus infections already in young people. It increases with the intensity and the duration of the infection.
A small number of young non-infected and apparently healthy people likewise showed damage and a reduction of the elastic fibers without any obvious cause.
One may therefore assume that different causes, among them advanced age and infection with O. volvulus, produce in varying degree a destruction and reduction of the fine elastic fibers in the papillary layer of the skin.