- Skin aging is a natural process
that can occur due to physiological and environmental factors. Aging can cause wrinkles, dryness, and pigmentation
are an effective approach to
slowing down and reversing the signs of aging
- An antioxidant called methylene blue can reverse the signs of aging in older people and even in progeria patients, finds a
is a natural process that affects the functions of the skin. Aging of the skin
can be reversed with a common, safe and inexpensive chemical, according to a
research team at the University of Maryland. The
research team found evidence that an antioxidant called methylene blue could
slow or reverse several signs of aging.
Blue can Reverse Aging
Skin is the
largest organ of the body that protects us from microbes and toxic compounds.
Our skin changes as we age; wrinkles, age spots, dryness,
pigmentation, and weakened wound healing ability are some of
the most common symptoms of aging. One of the major causes of skin aging is
oxidative stress. In skin care, application of antioxidants is an effective
approach to delay the process of skin aging.
For the study, the research team
tested the effect of methylene blue in cultured human skin cells and simulated
skin tissue. Skin cells from healthy middle-aged donors and from those
diagnosed with progeria
(a rare genetic disorder that mimics the
normal aging at an accelerated rate) were used for the study. The effect of methylene
blue on skin cells were tested for four weeks. The team also tested other three
known antioxidants such as N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), MitoQ
and MitoTEMPO (mTEM).
Effect of Methylene
Blue on Healthy
and Progeria Skin
The research team found that
methylene blue outperformed the other three antioxidants. Methylene blue
improved several age-related symptoms in skin cells from both healthy donors
and progeria patients.
‘A common antioxidant called methylene blue could be the secret to younger-looking skin. Methylene blue reverses and delays the signs of aging in human skin cells.’
In the skin cells, the
damaging molecules known as reactive oxygen species decreased and the rate of
cell division increased throughout the four-week treatment.
In the study
published in the journal Scientific Reports
the authors note that methylene blue could be a powerful antioxidant for use in
skin care products.
"The effects we
are seeing are not temporary. Methylene blue appears to make fundamental,
long-term changes to skin cells," said Kan Cao, senior
author on the study and an associate professor of cell biology and molecular
genetics at UMD.
Effect of Methylene
Blue on Older
The research team tested the
effect of methylene blue in fibroblasts from older donors (>80-years-old)
for a period of four weeks. At the end of the four weeks treatment, the team
found improvements in the cells. Methylene blue reduced the expression of
two genes - senescence-associated beta-galactosidase and p16,
which are commonly used as indicators of cellular aging.
encouraged and excited to see skin fibroblasts, derived from individuals more
than 80-years-old, grow much
better in methylene blue-containing medium with reduced cellular senescence
markers," said Zheng-Mei Xiong, lead author of the study and an assistant
research professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at UMD.
"Methylene blue demonstrates a great potential to delay skin aging for all
Effect of Methylene
Blue on Simulated
Human S kin
To perform several more
experiments, the research team used methylene blue on the simulated human skin.
The simulated human skin is a 3D model made of living skin cells, which
includes all the major layers and structures of the skin tissue without hair
follicles and sweat glands.
The model developed by Cao and Xiong is used in skin irritation tests required by
the Food and Drug Administration for the approval of new cosmetic products. The
system can also be used to test a range of aging symptoms that cannot be
replicated in cultured cells.
The 3D model treated with
methylene blue retained more water and increased in thickness, which are the features of younger-looking
The model skin can be used to
test the safety of cosmetic creams with methylene blue added, stated Cao.
Methylene blue causes little to
no irritation on the skin, even at high concentrations. Encouraged by the
positive result, the team hopes to develop safe and effective ways for
consumers to benefit from the properties of methylene blue.
already begun formulating cosmetics that contain methylene blue. Now we are
looking to translate this into marketable products. We are
also very excited to develop the three-dimensional skin model system. Perhaps
down the road we can customize the system with bioprinting, such that we might
be able to use a patient's own cells to provide a tailor-made testing platform
specific to their needs," said Cao.
What is Methylene
is a mitochondrial-targeting antioxidant. It is a century-old drug synthesized
in 1876. Methylene blue has been used in clinical medicine for the treatment of
various ailments such as malaria, methemoglobinemia,
vasoplegia, septic shock, cancer chemotherapy, and Alzheimer's disease.
is also known for its anti-aging properties. Fibroblasts treated with methylene
blue have displayed increased cellular lifespan, improved cell proliferation
and reduced expression of P16 (a biomarker of aging).
Based on the findings of the study, methylene blue can
be effectively used to protect the skin from oxidative stress and delay skin
- Zheng-Mei Xiong, Mike O'Donovan,
Linlin Sun, Ji Young Choi, Margaret Ren, Kan Cao. Anti-Aging Potentials of
Methylene Blue for Human Skin Longevity. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1)