Collagen cells in aged vs. young skin

  • Skin fibroblasts are the cells that produce - and also break down - elastin and collagen, the proteins that give skin it's firmness and elasticity. In this way fibroblasts maintain skin homeostasis (balance).
  • During aging, these cells undergo changes which lead to reduced production of collagen type 1 and an increased synthesis of MMP-1, which fragments the collagen fibrils. This results in reduction of mechanical tension (firmness) and defects of skin tissue healing.
  • In a recent study, scientists examined age-related changes in fibroblasts in "young" (<35 years) vs "old" (>50 years) people. In addition to the reduced collagen and increased MMP expression, mentioned above, it was found that "old" fibroblasts also have reduced ability to:
    • proliferate (multiply)
    • to contract
    • differentiate into myofibroblasts (wound healing cells) under TGFβ
    • protect themselves from oxidative stress
  • These six changes help explain the reason why aged skin has reduced firmness and elasticity, more prone to damage and less able to heal.
  • On the other hand, it reveals ways in which aged skin can be rejuvenated by natural active ingredients that boost collagen expression, fibroblast proliferation and inhibit MMP and oxidative damage.
  • Fortunately a large number of such actives are known and well-researched, including peptides, vitamins and extracts of cocoa, gotu kola, pine bark, horse chestnut, grape seed, blueberry and dozens - probably even hundreds - of other plants. You can benefit from these actives by either applying them locally, via a concentrated anti-ageing cream, or by taking them orally, with food or supplementation.
  • Source: Phenotypic and functional changes in dermal primary fibroblasts isolated from intrinsically aged huma n skin, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2644114