Skin care that includes two types of newly discovered protein fragments could one day repair age-induced damage.
The proteins that form an elastic web in our skin become increasingly damaged with age due to increased levels of inflammation in our body and exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Over time, the damage causes the skin to lose its elasticity and become wrinkled.
As proteins break down, they release small protein fragments called peptides. that can kick-start some degree of skin repair. However, these are usually released at insufficient levels to even slightly reverse the appearance of aging skin, he says. michael sherratt at the University of Manchester, UK.
Previously, some researchers have made cosmetic products that contain high levels of such peptides, but few of these peptides have been shown to repair skin damage in people.
In research presented at the American Academy of Dermatology conference in Louisiana on March 18, Sherratt and colleagues used artificial intelligence to predict which peptides are produced when proteins are broken down in our skin. From this, they identified two peptides that they believe occur naturally in our skin as a result of damage.
The researchers then applied these peptides to an area of skin on the forearms of eight Caucasian people, ages 71 to 84. The treated areas were covered with a polymer patch which is known to improve the penetration of peptides into the skin.
After the participants wore the patch for 12 days, the researchers collected a 3-millimeter-wide biopsy from the area where the peptides were applied, as well as from other areas that had not been exposed to these peptides.
They found that the peptides substantially increased the levels of key protein structures called fibrillin-rich microfibrils, which are known to make skin more elastic, in treated skin compared to other untreated areas. Participants did not experience adverse effects of the treatment.
The researchers did not record whether this increase in protein levels correlated with more youthful-looking skin, such as fewer wrinkles.
But according to mike bell At Walgreens Boots Alliance, a healthcare company that funded the study, in Nottingham, UK, fibrillin-rich microfibrils were increased to levels similar to those that naturally occur in people several years younger than the participants.
The researchers plan to test whether these elevated protein levels reduce the appearance of wrinkles in upcoming trials that will include larger numbers of participants from various ethnic backgrounds, Bell says.
While the study supports the idea that skin peptides can repair some damage, more work is needed to assess how long the effects last, he says. raja shivamani at Integrative Skin Science and Research, a clinical trials unit in Sacramento, California.
Further work should also look at whether the apparent anti-aging effects seen on forearm skin translate to facial skin, he says.
If you’re going into a skincare product, like with the No7 brand of Boots, you’ll probably need to apply the peptides every day to maintain any anti-aging effects, Bell says.