Recent studies on the effect of aging in epidermal cells have evidenced a decrease of proteasome activity and content, suggesting that proteasome is down-regulated in aged cells. The 20S proteasome is the major proteolytic system that has been implicated in removal of abnormal and oxidatively damaged proteins. Therefore, a decreased proteasome content may explain, at least in part, the ... [Show full abstract] well-documented age-related accumulation of oxidized proteins. To gain further insight in other mechanisms that may be implicated in a decreased activity of the proteasome with age, 20S proteasome has been purified from the epidermis from donors of different ages: young, middle-aged and old. The patterns of proteasome subunits have been analyzed by 2D gel electrophoresis to determine whether its structure is also affected with age. The 2D gel pattern of proteasome subunits was found to be modified for four subunits, indicating that the observed decline in proteasome activity with age may also be related to alterations of its subunits. These subunit alterations are likely to be involved in the age-related decrease of proteasome activity since the specific peptidase activities of the purified proteasome were found to be decreased with age.