Snow Algae And Novel Peptides Revive Aging SkinApril 2015
By Robert Goldfaden and Gary Goldfaden, MD.
Snow algae thrive in frigid high mountain areas and have the unique ability to survive brutal changes in temperature.
When applied to living cells, snow algae activates a longevity gene and the enzyme AMPK, which in turn enhances DNA repair.1,2
The ability to repair DNA is crucial for health and longevity. Most Life Extension® members take affirmative steps to internally boost AMPK cellular activity and turn on their longevity genes.
Researchers are now finding that topical application of snow algae produces a restorative effect to skin.
In addition, a group of novel peptides along with hyaluronic acid addresses a broad array of deleterious structural changes that occur in aging skin. The result is improved moisture, minimized wrinkles, and restoration of a more youthful outward appearance.
Rejuvenation Effects Of Snow Algae
For years, scientists have been intrigued with a phenomenon known as “red snow”3,4 that occurs every winter in high mountain areas around the world.
Red snow refers to the unique ability of snow algae to thrive in freezing temperatures with high ultraviolet radiation that would otherwise destroy most plants.
In the spring, cells of snow algae turn green due to energy production. They then turn red as winter approaches. This color change is related to the growing presence of carotenoid pigments that protect them against harmful UV rays.5,6
Curious about this ability to survive extreme temperature changes, scientists cultivated snow algae in the laboratory and observed two specific anti-aging activities. At the cellular level, snow algae activates an important longevity gene (Klotho) and the cellular energy enzyme AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase). Both of these mechanisms help faciliate DNA repair.2
When activated, AMPK acts to clear cellular debris that generate low-grade chronic inflammation and improves cellular stress resistance to slow down skin aging.1 Snow algae has been shown to prevent the age-related decline in AMPK activity that accelerates the aging process. In an in vitro study conducted by scientists, snow algae stimulated AMPK activity by 105% compared to a control in human skin cells. 2 And in another in vitro experiment, snow algae increased collagen production and inhibited destructing collagen enzymes by up to 47% in human fibroblast cells.2,7 Together, these studies demonstrate the anti-aging effects of snow algae and its unique ability to improve the healthy longevity of skin cells.
Cumulative sun exposure, pollutants, cold, and wind all weaken the skin’s barrier function, robbing it of vital moisture.8-11 Since snow algae can resist and adapt to these harmful environmental influences, researchers investigated whether its topical application would provide a similar benefit to human skin.
In a controlled clinical study, 21 human volunteers ranging in age from 30 to 57 applied snow algae extract to one half of their face and a placebo to the other half three times a day for only 21 days.12 During the second week of the study, subjects spent time in the harsh climate of the Alpine mountains. The subjects’ skin was evaluated for transepidermal water loss prior to treatment, on day 14, and on day 21. The results showed that transepidermal water loss was 12% lower on the side of the face in which snow algae was used, confirming an improvement in the skin’s barrier function.4 In addition, age spots were less visible in 67% of treated subjects—after only 21 days!2
In a recent clinical trial, snow algae extract was applied twice a day to the inner side of the forearm of 20 women aged 40 to 60 years old, while their other forearm was treated with a placebo. Skin hydration was measured using a device called a Corneometer®, which determines the level of skin hydration. The snow algae-treated side showed a 10% increase in skin hydration over the placebo side in just 14 days. This moisturizing effect was observed in 100% of participants, thus demonstrating snow algae’s effectiveness as a hydrating compound.2
Novel Peptides Enhance Collagen Renewal
The smooth and plump appearance of youthful skin can be attributed to its large amounts of collagen, a key protein that holds skin together. As a major component of a fibrous framework known as the extracellular matrix, collagen provides structural support to the surrounding cells in the dermis.13,14
With age and increased UV exposure, collagen production declines and its breakdown increases.15,16 This results in the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin.17-19
A novel combination of peptides has been found to stimulate the synthesis of different types of collagen in the dermis and dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ), a surface area that connects the dermis to the epidermis above it.20 This collagen-boosting effect enhances the ability of the dermis to retain water and properly hydrate the skin, leading to visible improvements in both smoothness and firmness.
This was apparent in a placebo-controlled trial in which a topical mixture containing the peptide palmitoyl dipeptide-5 was shown to increase skin smoothness by 12.2% and skin firmness by 10.8% after just two months compared to a control.20
Another innovative peptide that combats skin aging is palmitoyl tripeptide-5. This peptide has been shown to boost dermal collagen production through activation of latent tissue growth factor beta in turn exerting anti-wrinkle effects.21-23
In a 12-week study, a serum containing palmitoyl tripeptide-5 reduced fine wrinkles by 13% and deep or coarse wrinkles by 30% compared to baseline. This study also revealed significant improvements in several skin parameters including firmness, radiance, tone, and tactile roughness.24
Other research shows immediate results from using topical palmitoyl tripeptide-5, with one study reporting a 20% decrease in fine lines and 28% reduction in deep wrinkles around the eyes within minutes of initial application.23 Together, these studies indicate that palmitoyl tripeptide-5 improves the structural integrity of the dermis immediately and long term to fight the tell-tale signs of aging.
Hydrate With Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring25 polysaccharide that maintains skin hydration by acting as a powerful sponge and absorbing up to 1,000 times its own volume in water.26,27 Its outstanding water-holding capacity adds both volume and thickness to the dermis. The latest research also suggests that hyaluronic acid helps hydrate the stratum corneum layer of the epidermis and, via the CD44 receptor, supports the skin’s barrier function.28,29
The aging process and damaging free radicals depletes the skin of hyaluronic acid. Replenishing this vital nutrient restores moisture that leaves aging skin softer, smoother, and younger looking.
It may surprise you to learn that drinking plenty of water each day is only half the battle for keeping aging skin hydrated, smooth, and young looking.
Scientists have identified compounds, including snow algae extract, palmitoyl dipeptide-5, palmitoyl tripeptide-5, and hyaluronic acid, that help correct structural changes in aging skin to improve moisture, minimize wrinkles, and restore a youthful appearance.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
Gary Goldfaden, MD, is a clinical dermatologist and lifetime member of the American Academy of Dermatology. He is the founder of Academy Dermatology in Hollywood, FL, and Cosmesis Skin Care. Dr. Goldfaden is a member of the Life Extension Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board. All Cosmesis products are available online.
- Greer EL, Banko Mr. Brunet A. AMP-activated protein kinase and FoxO transcription factors in dietary restriction-induced longevity. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Jul;1170:688-92.
- Available at: http://tri-k.com/sites/default/files/Brochure_Snow_Algae_Powder.pdf. Accessed January 21, 2015.
- Lukeš M, Procházková L, Shmidt V, Nedbalová L, Kaftan D. Temperature dependence of photosynthesis and thylakoid lipid composition in the red snow alga Chlamydomonas cf. nivalis (Chlorophyceae). FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2014 Aug;89(2):303-15.
- Painter TH, Duval B, Thomas WH, Mendez M, Heintzelman S, Dozier J. Detection and quantification of snow algae with an airborne imaging spectrometer. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2001 Nov;67(11):5267-72.
- Gorton HL, Vogelmann TC. Ultraviolet radiation and the snow alga Chlamydomonas nivalis (Bauer) Wille. Photochem Photobiol. 2003 Jun;77(6):608-15.
- Stibal M, Elster J, Sabacka M, Kastovska K. Seasonal and diel changes in photosynthetic activity of the snow alga Chlamydomonas nivalis (Chlorophyceae) from Svalbard determined by pulse amplitude modulation flurometry. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2007 Feb;59(2):265-73.
- Available at: http://www.snow-algae.com/efficacy/preserving-collagen.html. Accessed January 21, 2015.
- Rawlings AV, Harding CR. Moisturization and skin barrier function. Dermatol Ther. 2004;17(1):43-8.
- D’Orazio J, Jarrett S, Amaro-Ortiz A, Scott T. UV Radiation and the Skin. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Jun 7;14(6):12222-48.
- Baudouin C, Charveron M, Tarroux R, Gall Y. Environmental pollutants and skin cancer. Cell Biol Toxicol. 2002;18(5):341-8.
- Roure R, Lanctin M, Nollent V, Bertin C. Methods to assess the protective efficacy of emollients against climatic and chemical aggressors. Dermatol Res Pract. 2012;2012:864734.
- Schmid, D, Stutz, C S, & Zülli, F. Use of an extract from snow algae in cosmetic or dermatological formulations. U.S. Patent No. 8,206,721. Washington, DC: US Patent and Trademark Office. 26 Jun. 2012.
- Quan T, Wang F, Shao Y, Rittié L, Xia W, Orringer JS, Voorhees JJ, Fisher GJ. Enhancing structural support of the dermal microenvironment activates fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and keratinocytes in aged human skin in vivo. J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Mar;133(3):658-67.
- Uitto J. The role of elastin and collagen in cutaneous aging: intrinsic aging versus photoexposure. J Drugs Dermatol. 2008 Feb;7(2):12-6.
- Varani J, Dame MK, Rittie L, Fligiel SE, Kang S, Fisher GJ, Voorhees JJ. Decreased collagen production in chronologically aged skin: roles of age-dependent alteration in fibroblast function and defective mechanical stimulation. Am J Pathol. 2006 Jun;168(6):1861-8.
- Quan T, Qin Z, Xia W, et al. Matrix-degrading metalloproteinases in photoaging. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2009 Aug;14(1):20-4.
- Ganceviciene R, Liakou AI, Theodoridis A, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1;4(3):308-19.
- Fanian F, Mac-Mary S, Jeudy A, Lihoreau T, Messikh R, Ortonne JP, Sainthillier JM, Elkhyat A, Guichard A, Kenari KH, Humbert P. Efficacy of micronutrient supplementation on skin aging and seasonal variation: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:1527-37.
- Flament F, Bazin R, Laquieze S, Rubert V, Simonpietri E, Piot B. Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2013 Sep 27;6:221-32.
- Product monograph: SYN®-TC. DSM. 2013.
- Murphy-Ullrich JE, Poczatek M. Activation of latent TGF-b by thrombospondin-1: mechanisms and physiology. Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2000;11:59-69.
- Varga J, Rosenbloom J, Jimenez SA. Transforming growth factor b (TGF-b) causes a persistent increase in steady state amounts of type I and type III collagen and fibronectin mRNAs in normal human dermal fibroblasts. Biochem J. 1987;247:597-604.
- Trookman, NS, Rizer RL, Ford R, Ho E, Gotz V. Immediate and long-term clinical benefits of a topical treatment for facial lines and wrinkles. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2009 Mar;2(3):38-43.
- Sonti S, Makino ET, Garruto JA, et al. Efficacy of a novel treatment serum in the improvement of photodamaged skin. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2013 Apr;35(2):156-62.
- Dahiya P, Kamal R. Hyaluronic acid: a boon in periodontal therapy. N Am J Med Sci. 2013 May;5(5):309-15.
- Allemann I B, Baumann L. Hyaluronic acid gel (Juvéderm™) preparations in the treatment of facial wrinkles and folds. Clin Interv Aging. 2008 Dec;3(4):629-34.
- Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid: a key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul;4(3): 253-258.
- Sakai S, Yasuda R, Sayo T, Ishikawa O, Inoue S. Hyaluronan exists in the normal stratum corneum. J Invest Dermatol. 2000 Jun;114(6):1184-7.
- Bourguignon LY, Ramez M, Gilad E, et al. Hyaluronan-CD44 interaction stimulates keratinocytes differentiation, lamellar body formation/secretion, and permeability barrier homeostasis. J Invest Dermatol. 2006 Jun;126(6):1356-65.