Topical Lycopene Improves Skin Cellular FunctionSeptember 2012
By Gary Goldfaden, MD And Robert Goldfaden
A Free Radical Scavenger
When compared to other antioxidants, such as vitamin E, lycopene is a more potent scavenger of the free radicals that contribute to aging and chronic disease.10 Due to the fact that lycopene is concentrated in your cell membranes, its free-radical scavenging ability plays a vital role in preventing oxidative damage to the membrane lipids, thereby influencing the thickness, strength, and fluidity of your membranes.10 Because these cell membranes are the gatekeepers of your cells, allowing nutrients to be absorbed, preventing toxins from entering, and facilitating the removal of waste products, maintaining the health and integrity of your cell membranes is a key factor in the prevention of aging.
Cell Communication Enhancer
Besides protecting your skin cells from free radical damage and enhancing certain aspects of cell metabolism, lycopene also appears to produce its beneficial effects by improving the operation of cell-to-cell junctions.11 Also known as gap junctions, they coordinate cellular behavior by directly connecting the cytoplasm of two cells so that molecules and ions can pass freely between them.12,13 Gap junction communication can be found in all the different tissues of your body, with skeletal muscle and mobile cell types like sperm or red blood cells being the only exceptions.13 Gap junctions are particularly important to your skin because it is highly dependent upon intercellular communication for vital metabolic processes related to growth and reproduction. Lycopene's ability to enhance connectivity between cells may noticeably improve your skin's texture by aiding cellular functions that are essential to keeping your skin looking young.
Lycopene may also strengthen your skin by inhibiting the activity of enzymes involved in the destruction of collagen.14 This reaction breaks down the peptide bonds in the collagen fibers of your skin, resulting in gradual loss of integrity and the appearance of sags and wrinkles. Lycopene down-regulates collagenase and helps maintain natural firmness.
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