- Skin aging is a natural process that can occur due to physiological and environmental factors. Aging can cause wrinkles, dryness, and pigmentation
- Antioxidants 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 new study
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.
Antioxidant Methylene Blue can Reverse AgingSkin 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 CellsThe 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.
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 Skin CellsThe 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.
"I was 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 ages."
Effect of Methylene Blue on Simulated Human S kinTo 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 skin.
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.
"We have 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 Blue?Methylene blue 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.
Methylene blue 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 aging.
- 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) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-02419-3
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