June 01, 2008
Therapies Restore Aging Skin Collagen Production

Some people apply topical retinoic acid in order to look good. But think of retinoic acid as a rejuvenation therapy that at least partially restores collagen needed to avoid bruises and tears. No need to think you are doing the therapy for vanity. No, no. Think "reinforce structural integrity". (can you hear a Star Trek character saying that?)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Fine wrinkles, deeper creases, saggy areas around the mouth and neck – the sights in the mirror that make baby boomers wince – are not inevitable. They result from a structural breakdown inside the skin that some existing treatments effectively counteract by stimulating the growth of new, youthful collagen, University of Michigan scientists say.

The researchers report an emerging picture of collagen collapse and possible renewal, based on more than a decade of studies, in the May issue of Archives of Dermatology.

The article draws on dozens of studies since the early 1990s, conducted primarily by U-M dermatologists, to explain why three types of available skin treatments are effective: topical retinoic acid, carbon dioxide laser resurfacing and injections of cross-linked hyaluronic acid.

These treatments all improve the skin’s appearance – and its ability to resist bruises and tears – by stimulating new collagen.

I wonder whether long term use of retinoic acid slows the rate of skin aging. Or does it cause the collagen producing cells to wear out more quickly?

You do not want your skin to dissolve. Aging is destruction. All this sounds bad.

As skin ages, reactive oxygen species, associated with many aspects of aging, lead to increased production of the enzyme collagenase, which breaks down collagen. Then fibroblasts, the critical players in firm, healthy skin, lose their normal stretched state. They collapse, and then more breakdown enzymes are produced. People in their 80s have four times more broken collagen than people in their 20s.

“What it’s doing is dissolving your skin,” Voorhees says. “What you’ve got is a vicious cycle. You have to interrupt it, or aging skin is just going downhill.”

In the elderly, in whom the dermis has lost two-thirds or more of its youthful thickness through collagen loss, skin tears and bruises easily. Collagen-building interventions thus have potential for reducing basic health problems such as bed sores, in addition to improving appearance.

We really need stem cell therapies and gene therapies that would fix the damage that causes the reactive oxygen species generation. Stop the problem at its root.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 June 01 10:47 PM  Rejuvenation Skin

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