Why Skin Ages?

Matrix Metalloproteinases and Your Skin

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are enzymes in the skin that play an important role in its function.  They are responsible for breaking down damaged, worn out, or malformed skin components so that they may be recycled and used to build new ones.

These components make up the skin matrix which consists of substances such as collagen and elastin fibers.  The matrix serves as the framework that holds the skin together and is responsible for its firmness, strength, and elasticity.

When the skin is young and healthy, the degradation and replenishment of the skin matrix are in balance.  Age-associated damage occurs when the process of production, primarily of collagen, cannot keep up with its degradation.  Hence, wrinkles develop and the skin sags because it no longer has the same amount of support as it once did.  This problem that accompanies aging can be addressed in two ways.  You can replenish the collagen that has been lost by stimulating the production of more of it, or you can inhibit the degradation of the collagen that you already have.

Replenishing the skin matrix involves the use of skin care products containing ingredients known for boosting collagen synthesis.  Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), retinol, topical estrogens, and peptides are examples of such matrix synthesis boosters.  If you are concerned with the visible effects that accompany age-associated collagen loss, you might want to try skin care products containing these ingredients.  The efficacy of such products varies from person to person as a result of variations in individual body chemistry.  Also, for one reason or another, the skin’s response to such rejuvenating ingredients tends to decline with age.

The other method of inhibiting skin aging is to prevent collagen loss by inhibiting or reducing the levels of matrix metalloproteinases that break it down.  Since MMP levels rise significantly with age, inhibiting them retards skin aging without interfering with their ability to break down damaged skin components.  In other words, the use of inhibiting agents helps to restore the balance that the skin possessed when it was younger.

The easiest and least expensive means of preventing skin matrix deterioration is to avoid environmental factors that stimulate the production of MMPs.  Such factors include UVA and UVB radiation from the sun, pollutants, chlorinated water, and smoking.  Anything that causes irritation, inflammation and production of free radicals can stimulate the synthesis of MMPs and accelerate skin aging.

Of course, avoiding environmental stressors that increase MMP levels is not always possible.  Following are substances that may inhibit the stimulation of enzyme production thereby preserving the collagen that will keep you looking younger, longer:

SUNSCREEN:  Regular use of a broad spectrum sunscreen/sunblock will inhibit  UVA/UVB induced free radical damage.

ANTIOXIDANTS:  The use of topical skin care products containing Pycnogenol, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E will help neutralize free radicals before they can do damage.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES:  Just as inflammation increases the level of MMP enzymes, anti-inflammatory agents produce the opposite effect.  Alpha lipoic acid, boswellic acid, and resveratrol, (a natural compound found in grapes), are all known to possess anti-inflammatory activity.

MMP INHIBITORS:  Unlike antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which inhibit the synthesis of MMPs, MMP inhibitors deter the action of the enzymes themselves.  It has been demonstrated that extracts from Butcher’s broom inhibit elastase, the enzyme that breaks down elastin.  In addition, soy peptide complex or soy hydrolysate appears to inhibit some MMP enzymes. Consequently, you want to look for skin care products that advertise the presence of “MMP Inhibitors” as an ingredient.

DHEA:  DHEA is an adrenal steroid the reduces significantly with age.  A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported that the topical application of DHEA not only inhibited skin matrix degradation but also promoted its synthesis.


Source from: anti-aging skincare

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