“Your epidermis is showing,” my older sister once mischievously teased. What I at first thought was an inappropriate reference turned out to be an anatomical term for skin. This external tissue takes on a lot, from ultraviolet radiation to harmful chemicals and gases. With age, the damage is visible, as my sister had once indirectly implied, but a new study suggests this physical deterioration is fixable.
Nadine Pernodet, a scientist at the Materials Science and Engineering department at Stony Brook University, looked into how skin function changes due to epigenetic changes. She confirmed that skin cells follow a circadian rhythm (they change based on a daily schedule). For example, skin is relatively dry during the day, acting as a barrier to the elements, while it works to repair itself overnight and is more hydrated in the morning. However, when comparing the human skin cells from younger and older subjects, Pernodet found that these rhythms were only present in the young cells.
Perdenot further investigated with her team, studying other cellular processes that the circadian rhythm affects such as cellular recycling processes (found in lysosomes) and protein production. She utilized metabolomics, a method that measures the presence of metabolites (the products of metabolic processes such as carbohydrates, lipids, and amino acids) at any given time. Scientists removed skin metabolites for analysis using special tape and identified hundreds that affected skin appearance. They found that over sixty percent of metabolites cycled rhythmically for Caucasian women 25 and younger, but that less than twenty percent of those same metabolites oscillated strongly or consistently for women 60 and older.
The results showed that metabolites are more active and follow a circadian rhythm in younger skin cells, revealing how oscillation weakens and skin repair efficiency weakens with age. Though, there is much hope for potential solutions. In identifying the issue, certain skin-treatments have incorporated specific peptides which return the skin to a more youthful rhythm by restoring the once-lacked metabolites. This, in turn, can ultimately reduce visible signs of aging. Brands such as Estee Lauder are at the forefront of this terrain.
The study may also open up more research, as the metabolomic test strip can be used for other parts of the body, revealing other health conditions and issues, too. The future (and our skin 😉 ) looks bright. How do you care for your skin? Which products and habits do you use? Let me know in the comments below.
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