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New Solution for Anti-aging

By: Shyam Gupta, PhD, and Linda Walker
Posted: March 8, 2011, from the March 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

Loss of internal cellular pressure due to water loss causes osmotic stress, resulting in wrinkled, saggy skin. And the application of osmoprotectants—small molecules that help organisms survive extreme osmotic stress—has clear implications for multifunctional skin care.

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The agents known to provide osmoprotection in non-mammalian organisms and plants include (but are not limited to) trehalose, maltose, sucrose, palatinose, cellobiose, gentiobiose, turanose, sorbitol, calcium chloride and certain amino acids such as proline and alpha-glutamate.

Hyperosmolarity, the condition of a fluid of having abnormally high osmolarity, induces inflammation via the secretion of proinflammatory cytokines. The production of inflammatory cytokines causes the acceleration of the aging process. [For more on inflammation and its role in aging skin, read “Inflammation and Aging” on Page 48] Treatment with anti-inflammatory agents provides symptomatic relief to several aging-associated diseases, and the demand for new ingredients and technologies for preventive treatments continues to expand. Among them are the use of osmoprotective agents for anti-aging skin care.

New Osmoprotective Agents

The leading potential source for new osmoprotective agents stems from sucrose, trehalose, maltose, cellobiose, gentiobiose, turanose and palatinose that are very unusual osmoprotectants for Sinorhizobium meliloti (a soil bacterium that forms nitrogen-fixing nodules on the roots of certain genera of leguminous plants). Interestingly, these compounds were catabolized (released energy that resulted in the breakdown of materials within the organism) and contributed to accumulation of endogenously synthesized osmolyte. Created within the bacterium, it is known as N-acetylglutaminylglutamine. Findings from the study of this bacterium provided new insights for the role of N-acetylglutaminylglutamine and related compounds in cellular osmoprotection. In addition, delivery is being addressed in compounds such as aloesin, a compound isolated from aloe vera juice extracts that is complexed with N-acetylglutaminylglutamine, for example—for enhanced topical penetration.

Although the relationship between osmoprotection in lower life forms to humans has not been established, the use of bacterial protection agents for human skin care applications has precedence—ingredients in Kiehl’s Abyssine, for example, are obtained from thermophilic bacteria and tubeworms. And it is clear that continually seeking new concepts to innovate products is a must to continue to create excitement and engage consumers; osmoprotective agents are among the exciting technologies that are sure to engage while addressing to that age-old problem—skin aging.

Shyam Gupta is a consultant in skin and hair care ingredients and topical delivery systems. He specializes in nature-and-science - based formulations with enhanced efficacy and consumer desirable performance attributes. 1-602-996-9700;;