Stretch Marks: Four Genetic Markers Near Elastin Gene Identified Interview with:  Joyce Y Tung Interview with:

Joyce Y Tung Ph.D.
Research Team
23andMe Inc.
Mountain View, California, USA What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Tung: 23andMe researchers identified four genetic markers that were significantly associated with the development of stretch marks, including one near the elastin (ELN) gene. This finding may further explain why some individuals are more susceptible to the skin condition. Given that loose skin is a symptom of syndromes caused by deletion or loss-of-function mutations in ELN, these results also support the hypothesis that variations in the elastic fiber component of the skin extracellular matrix contribute to the development of stretch marks. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Tung: One of our the genetic markers we found to be associated with stretch marks has previously been associated with body mass index (BMI), so we looked to see whether other genetic markers associated with BMI were associated with stretch marks. Interestingly, one of the genetic markers was associated with stretch marks after adjusting for BMI. This suggests that stretch marks and BMI may share some common biology, independent of simple weight gain. What should clinicians and patients take away from this study?

Dr. Tung: None of the existing treatments for stretch marks are completely effective in removing stretch marks. Interestingly, most popular treatments including topical treatments and laser treatments focus on stimulating collagen production, rather than elastin production, to improve the appearance of stretch marks, although some also increase elastic fibers.(1)

These findings may provide further insight into future methods for the prevention and treatment of stretch marks. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of your study?

Dr. Tung: There is some overlap between genes associated with stretch marks and genes associated with BMI. The potential effect of genes associated with obesity on stretch marks, both independent of and via changes in BMI, is an intriguing area for further study. These genes provide a new view into the biology of stretch marks, and more work is needed to understand the complex mechanisms that drive these changes in the skin.

(1)Elsaie ML, Baumann LS, Elsaaiee LT (2009) Striae distensae (stretch marks) and different modalities of therapy: an update. Dermatol Surg 35:563–573


Genome-wide association analysis implicates elastic microfibrils in the development of non-syndromic striae distensae
J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Apr 30. doi: 10.1038/jid.2013.196. [Epub ahead of print]

Tung JY, Kiefer AK, Mullins M, Francke U, Eriksson N.

23andMe Inc., Mountain View, California, USA.

PMID:23633020 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]