Dr Ian Webster
Dr Ian Webster

Elastin, Explained.

Wrinkles, uneven pigmentation and loss of skin firmness are all changes associated with ageing skin. Age-related skin changes are the result of genetically programmed changes is known as intrinsic ageing, the natural ageing process. Extrinsic ageing is caused by environmental wear-and-tear on the skin, often referred to as photo ageing through UV exposure, pollution and other external aggressors. While both influence the skin’s structure and function, extrinsic ageing determines how fast we age.

There are some obvious and not so obvious signs of ageing in the epidermis and dermis. While not as pronounced as changes in the dermis, the epidermis does display some age-related characteristics such as epidermal thinning and dermal-epidermal flattening. While the majority of the age-related changes that occur in our skin happen in the dermis and this is the result of changes in the fibroblast (cells responsible for collagen, elastin, and GAG production), not only is the collagen and elastin synthesised at a slower rate which impacts the skin’s ability to repair itself, but the organisation of the proteins also changes, affecting skin’s structure.

Elastin is a protein that lives in the dermis as a fibre in the spaces of many connective tissues. This protein is roughly 1000 times more flexible than collagen and provides resilience and elasticity to tissues. Elastin gets its name from its ability to act like an elastic band, that is, to stretch and bounce back with a swift force.

Prolonged exposure to sunlight results in the degradation of collagen and elastin, a result caused primarily by the enzymes, Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs). The activity of MMPs is critical in the remodelling of connective tissue which is an important element of ageing and wound healing, however, studies have shown that UV radiation activates these enzymes within hours of UVB exposure and with long term continuous activation of these enzymes has an opposite effect, causing alterations to the fibre network which presents as loose and sagging skin with reduced resilience and elasticity.

“This protein is roughly 1000 times more flexible than collagen and provides resilience and elasticity to tissues. Elastin gets its name from its ability to act like an elastic band, that is, to stretch and bounce back with a swift force”

Changes in the elastin fibres are so characteristic in photoaged skin that the condition known as Favre Racouchot (Solar Elastosis) is considered an official hallmark of photoaged skin. This is identified by an accumulation of unformed elastin proteins and a breakdown in the typical structural layout, which results in decreased skin elasticity and tensile strength. This phenomenon accounts for why more mature skin takes longer to assume its original position or “bounce back” when extended or pulled.

Although Elastin is made by the fibroblasts in the dermis, they can be stimulated by epidermal cells as both structures are key to wound healing. Any epithelial stimulation will signal and stimulate the fibroblast which in turn signals collagen and elastin production.

Boosting elastin in the skin is a topic that has often been in the shadow of collagen – and at the expense of elastin.

Ingredients that are key to elastin synthesis and building are namely Retinol, Peptides and Vitamin C, even minerals. Retinol applies its anti-ageing benefits not only via enhanced epidermal building and increased collagen production, but it also improves elastin fibre formation, through increased elastin production and organisation. Peptides are essential to build and maintain the structure of Elastin. Peptides are key to forming the cross-linking of elastin, this ‘organisation’ is what binds the elastin fibres together.

Obagi Medical Products have recently launched ELASTIderm™ Facial Serum and it has shown to improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin when applied twice daily for up to 6–8 weeks. This improvement was accompanied by repair of the elastic fibre network. This bi‐metal, copper-zinc and malonate has shown to increase elastin synthesis and that regeneration of elastic fibres may contribute to wrinkle improvement with photoaged skin.

Furthermore, collagen contains glycine and proline which is also important for elastin formation. So by supplementing with collagen, you can improve both.

Clinically-proven effectiveness shows that collagen supplementation, like the Pro-Active Liquid Collagen significantly improves the maintenance of skin elasticity & hydration and contributes to the stimulatory effect of the collagen biosynthesis in the body tissue.

Our overall health is also largely based on our nutrition and lifestyle choices. We all have the ultimate goal to delay the ageing process and want the “rubber band in your skin” to easily bounce back for years to come.

References

Molecular Mechanisms of Skin Aging State of the Art E. MAKRANTONAKI AND C. C. ZOUBOULIS

Connective Tissue Biochemistry of the Aging Dermis: Age-Associated Alterations in Collagen and Elastin
Author links open overlay panelJouniUittoMD, PhD*

Professor of Dermatology, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology; Chairman, Department of Dermatology, Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Available online 23 July 2018.

Review Article Elastin structure and its involvement in skin photoageing A. C. Weihermann*,† , M. Lorencini*, C. A. Brohem* and C. M. de Carvalho*,† *Department of Research and Development, Grupo Boticario, Rua Alfredo Pinto, 1500, S ao Jos ~ e dos Pinhais, 83065-150, PR, Brazil and † Department of Industrial Biotechnology, Universidade Positivo, Rua Prof. Pedro Viriato Parigot de Souza, 5300, Curitiba, 81280-330, PR, Brazil Received 31 August 2016, Accepted 8 October 2016

Posted in LEARN / ANTI-AGEING on November 19th, 2020.

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