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Epigenetics and Aging: A New Player in Skin Care by Cosmetics & Toiletries

Nov 20, 2015  – By: Nikifor K. Konstantinov, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Constance J. Ulff-Møller M.D., Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark; Stefan Dimitrov, Ph.D., Institut Albert Bonniot, Grenoble Cedex 9, France; Howard I. Maibach, M.D., University of California, San Francisco, California, USA

Epigenetics describes the physiological reprogramming that occurs in the cell without changes in the DNA sequence. The main epigenetic tools used by the cell are:

  • DNA methylation
  • histone modifications
  • histone variants
  • chromatin remodeling nanomachines, and
  • the regulatory activity of microRNAs (miRNAs).1

The combinative use of these tools regulates the accessibility of the DNA to outside factors in the nucleus, which affects vital cellular processes including transcription and DNA repair. Although the study of epigenetics in clinical medicine is relatively new, the applications to dermatology are profound—with mechanisms and future therapeutic modalities being examined in melanoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, psoriasis and aging.2 The cosmetic industry has taken serious interest and begun to develop new anti-aging products that target epigenetic processes.

Aging and Epigenetic Processes

Aging is an inevitable biological process that is associated with the damage of various cellular macromolecules—DNA, protein, lipids, etc.—over time. The damage is secondary to an increase in free radicals, which leads to mitochondrial, and subsequently to cellular, dysfunction. These biochemical changes result in reduced synthesis of collagen and elastin, which contributes in turn to wrinkling of skin.3

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