Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Aug 2018

Spearmint tea, Ashwagandha, Hyaluronic acid, and Plant ceramides

Spearmint tea, Ashwagandha, Hyaluronic acid, and Plant ceramides

Spearmint tea

The effect of caffeine on working memory load-related brain activation in middle-aged males.

Caffeine is commonly consumed in an effort to enhance cognitive performance. However, little is known about the usefulness of caffeine with regard to memory enhancement, with previous studies showing inconsistent effects on memory performance. We aimed to determine the effect of caffeine on working memory (WM) load-related activation during encoding, maintenance and retrieval phases of a WM maintenance task using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). 20 healthy, male, habitual caffeine consumers aged 40-61 years were administered 100 mg of caffeine in a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover design. Participants were scanned in a non-withdrawn state following a workday during which caffeinated products were consumed according to individual normal use (range = 145-595 mg). Acute caffeine administration was associated with increased load-related activation compared to placebo in the left and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during WM encoding, but decreased load-related activation in the left thalamus during WM maintenance. These findings are indicative of an effect of caffeine on the fronto-parietal network involved in the top-down cognitive control of WM processes during encoding and an effect on the prefrontal cortico-thalamic loop involved in the interaction between arousal and the top-down control of attention during maintenance. Therefore, the effects of caffeine on WM may be attributed to both a direct effect of caffeine on WM processes, as well as an indirect effect on WM via arousal modulation. Behavioural and fMRI results were more consistent with a detrimental effect of caffeine on WM at higher levels of WM load, than caffeine-related WM enhancement. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled ‘Cognitive Enhancers’.

Neuropharmacology. 2013 Jan;64:160-7.

Spearmint Extract Improves Working Memory in Men and Women with Age-Associated Memory Impairment.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of supplementation with a spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) extract, high in polyphenols including rosmarinic acid, on cognitive performance, sleep, and mood in individuals with age-associated memory impairment (AAMI). DESIGN: Subjects with AAMI (N = 90; 67% female; age = 59.4 ± 0.6 years) were randomly assigned (n = 30/group) to consume 900, 600, or 0 mg/day (two capsules, once daily) spearmint extract for 90 days, in this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Assessments were completed for cognition (days 0, 45, and 90), sleep (days 0 and 90), and mood (days 0 and 90) by using the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) System™, Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaire (LSEQ), and Profile of Mood States (POMS™), respectively. RESULTS: Quality of working memory and spatial working memory accuracy improved after supplementation with 900 mg/day spearmint extract by 15% (p = 0.0469) and 9% (p = 0.0456), respectively, versus placebo. Subjects consuming 900 mg/day spearmint extract reported improvement in their ability to fall asleep, relative to subjects consuming placebo (p = 0.0046). Overall treatment effects were evident for vigor-activity (p = 0.0399), total mood disturbance (p = 0.0374), and alertness and behavior following wakefulness (p = 0.0415), with trends observed for improvements after spearmint supplementation relative to placebo. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that the distinct spearmint extract may be a beneficial nutritional intervention for cognitive health in older subjects with AAMI.

J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Jan;24(1):37-47.

Human Hippocampal Neurogenesis Persists throughout Aging.

Adult hippocampal neurogenesis declines in aging rodents and primates. Aging humans are thought to exhibit waning neurogenesis and exercise-induced angiogenesis, with a resulting volumetric decrease in the neurogenic hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) region, although concurrent changes in these parameters are not well studied. Here we assessed whole autopsy hippocampi from healthy human individuals ranging from 14 to 79 years of age. We found similar numbers of intermediate neural progenitors and thousands of immature neurons in the DG, comparable numbers of glia and mature granule neurons, and equivalent DG volume across ages. Nevertheless, older individuals have less angiogenesis and neuroplasticity and a smaller quiescent progenitor pool in anterior-mid DG, with no changes in posterior DG. Thus, healthy older subjects without cognitive impairment, neuropsychiatric disease, or treatment display preserved neurogenesis. It is possible that ongoing hippocampal neurogenesis sustains human-specific cognitive function throughout life and that declines may be linked to compromised cognitive-emotional resilience.

Cell Stem Cell. 2018 Apr 5;22(4):589-599.e5.

Effect of botanical extracts containing carnosic acid or rosmarinic acid on learning and memory in SAMP8 mice.

Oxidative damage is one of the hallmarks of the aging process. The current study evaluated effects of two proprietary antioxidant-based ingredients, rosemary extract and spearmint extract containing carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, respectively, on learning and memory in the SAMP8 mouse model of accelerated aging. The two rosemary extracts contained carnosic acid (60% or 10% carnosic acid) and one spearmint extract contained 5% rosmarinic acid. Three doses of actives in each extract were tested: 32, 16, 1.6 or 0mg/kg. After 90days of treatment mice were tested in T-maze foot shock avoidance, object recognition and lever press. Rosemary extract containing 60% carnosic acid improved acquisition and retention in T-maze foot shock, object recognition and lever press. Rosemary extract with 10% carnosic acid improved retention in T-maze foot shock avoidance and lever press. Spearmint with 5% rosmarinic acid improved acquisition and retention in T-maze foot shock avoidance and object recognition. 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE) was reduced in the brain cortex after treatment with all three extracts (P<0.001) compared to the vehicle treated SAMP8. Protein carbonyls were reduced in the hippocampus after administration of rosemary with 10% carnosic acid (P<0.05) and spearmint containing 5% rosmarinic acid (P<0.001). The current results indicate that the extracts from spearmint and rosemary have beneficial effects on learning and memory and brain tissue markers of oxidation that occur with age in SAMP8 mice.

Physiol Behav. 2016 Oct 15;165:328-38.

Ashwagandha

Stress mechanisms and metabolic complications.

Stress can be defined as a state of threatened homeostasis or disharmony. An intricate repertoire of physiologic and behavioral responses is mobilized under stressful situations forming the adaptive stress response that aims to reestablish the challenged body equilibrium. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the central and peripheral components of the autonomic nervous system constitute the two main pillars that subserve the vital functions of the stress system. Chronic stress represents a prolonged threat to homeostasis that can progressively lead to a deleterious overload with various complications caused by both the persistent stressor and the detrimental prolongation of the adaptive response. Recent data indicate that chronic stress is associated to derangement of metabolic homeostasis that contributes to the clinical presentation of visceral obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome. Notably, indices of stress in the modern western societies correlate with the increasing incidence of both obesity and the metabolic syndrome which have reached epidemic proportions over the past decades. The pathogenetic mechanisms that accommodate these correlations implicate primarily the chronic hyperactivation of the HPA axis under prolonged stress, which favors accumulation of visceral fat, and VICE VERSA; obesity constitutes a chronic stressful state that may cause HPA axis dysfunction. In addition, obesity is being now recognized as a systemic low grade inflammatory state that contributes to the derangement of the metabolic equilibrium, implicating the adipocyte secretion of adipokines to the pathogenesis of several components of the metabolic syndrome. Understanding the mechanisms that mediate the documented reciprocal relationships between stress and metabolic homeostasis will hopefully provide novel insights to the pathophysiology of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and their cardiometabolic complications, and will help the quest for more specific and effective therapeutic interventions.

Horm Metab Res. 2007 Jun;39(6):430-8.

Chronic stress, visceral obesity and gonadal dysfunction.

Chronic stress represents a prolonged state of dyshomeostasis caused by intense and frequently imposed stressors. Obesity constitutes a chronic dysmetabolic state, leading progressively to a spectrum of metabolic complications, such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Alpha growing body of evidence supports the existence of significant interactions between stress and obesity, with chronic stress promoting weight gain, and consequently excessive fat accumulation especially visceral, all these factors contributing to the development of a chronic stressful state. Maintaining body homeostasis is a prerequisite for normal reproductive function, which is vital for the survival of the species and an important process of natural selection. Under chronic stress, reproductive function is suspended and disrupted due to central and peripheral actions of hormones, adipokines and pro-inflammatory cytokines that inhibit the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary gonadal (HPG) axis at various levels. Clinical and experimental data link both obesity and chronic stress to dysregulation of the gonadal axis, via independent and synergistic mechanisms, which may chronically lead to reproductive dysfunction and reduced fertility.

Hormones (Athens). 2008 Oct-Dec;7(4):287-93.

Protective effect of Withania somnifera dunal root extract against protracted social isolation induced behavior in rats.

This study investigated the effect of Withania somnifera Dunal (WS) root extract and diazepam in social isolation induced behavior such as anxiety and depression in rats. Rats were isolated for 6 weeks and the assessment of changed behavior were done on elevated plus maze (EPM) and forced swim test (FST). Isolation reared rats spent less time into the open arms on EPM and significantly increased immobility time in FST compared to group housed rats. WS (100, 200 or 500 mg/kg, oral) and diazepam (1 or 2 mg/kg, ip) dose dependently increased the time spent and entries into the open arms on EPM test and showed the anxiolytic activity. Subeffective dose of WS (50 mg/kg, oral) potentiated the anxiolytic action of diazepam (0.5, 1 or 2 mg/kg, ip). WS (100, 200 or 500 mg/kg, oral) also reduced the immobility time in FST, thus showed antidepressant effect in both group housed and social isolates. The investigations support the use of WS as a mood stabilizer in socially isolation behavior in Ayurveda.

Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Oct-Dec;51(4):345-53.

Effect of Withania somnifera Dunal in ethanol-induced anxiolysis and withdrawal anxiety in rats.

Withania somnifera (WS) or its psychotropic preparation is known to play a critical role in morphine, alcohol and benzodiazepines addiction. This study investigates the role of WS in acute ethanol and withdrawal from chronic ethanol consumption using elevated plus maze paradigm in rats. Acute administration of ethanol (1.5-2 g/kg, ip) triggered anxiolytic effect and withdrawal from prolonged ethanol (9% v/v ethanol, 15 days) consumption elicited enhanced behavioral despair (anxiety). Acute administration of WS (50 mg/kg, oral) potentiated the anxiolytic action of subeffective dose of ethanol (0.5 or 1 g/kg, ip). Moreover, the ethanol withdrawal anxiety was markedly antagonized in dose dependent manner by WS at 200 and 500 mg/kg or higher dose of ethanol (2.5 g/kg). However, co-administration of subeffective doses of WS (50 mg/kg, oral) and ethanol also attenuated withdrawal-induced anxiety due to chronic ethanol (9% v/v ethanol, 15 days) consumption. The results suggest the protective effect of WS in the management of ethanol withdrawal reactions.

Indian J Exp Biol. 2008 Jun;46(6):470-5.

Perceived stress and cause-specific mortality among men and women: results from a prospective cohort study.

The authors assessed the effect of psychological stress on total and cause-specific mortality among men and women. In 1981-1983, the 12,128 Danish participants in the Copenhagen City Heart Study were asked two questions on stress intensity and frequency and were followed in a nationwide registry until 2004, with <0.1% loss to follow-up. Sex differences were found in the relations between stress and mortality (p = 0.02). After adjustments, men with high stress versus low stress had higher all-cause mortality (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.32, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.15, 1.52). This finding was most pronounced for deaths due to respiratory diseases (high vs. low stress: HR = 1.79, 95% CI: 1.10, 2.91), external causes (HR = 3.07, 95% CI: 1.65, 5.71), and suicide (HR = 5.91, 95% CI: 2.47, 14.16). High stress was related to a 2.59 (95% CI: 1.20, 5.61) higher risk of ischemic heart disease mortality for younger, but not older, men. In general, the effects of stress were most pronounced among younger and healthier men. No associations were found between stress and mortality among women, except among younger women with high stress, who experienced lower cancer mortality (HR = 0.51, 95% CI: 0.28, 0.92). Future preventive strategies may be targeted toward stress as a risk factor for premature death among middle-aged, presumably healthy men.

Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Sep 1;168(5):481-91; discussion 492-6.

Ageing, stress and the brain.

Ageing of the brain is an important factor in overall ageing and mortality, and new insights have clarified the relationship between neuroregulation and ageing. First, neuronal loss in normal ageing is now known to be a minor change. Loss of synapses through dystrophic neuronal change is the hallmark of normal ageing. Second, similar dystrophic changes occur in the brain with chronic stress. In both instances, forebrain sites experience loss of synaptic input from brainstem regulatory nuclei. Third, functional ageing is attributed in part to lifetime stress, under the concept of ‘allostatic load’. Being inseparable from the functions of appraising and responding to stress, the brain is an ultimate mediator of stress-related mortality, through hormonal changes that lead to proximate pathologies like hypertension, glucose intolerance, cardiovascular disease and immunological impairment. In chronic stress the brain shows clear allostatic compensations that lead to pathology. Two subtle and chronic mechanisms that may mediate brain pathology and accelerated ageing in chronic stress are proposed. These are abnormal glucocorticoid receptor (GR) occupancy over the 24 h cycle, and elevated body temperature. These factors lead to GR-mediated tissue changes and to acceleration of general cellular ageing mechanisms. Human depression is discussed as an exemplary demonstration of these principles.

Novartis Found Symp. 2002;242:26-36; discussion 36-45.

Psychological and metabolic stress: a recipe for accelerated cellular aging?

Chronic stress can affect human health through a myriad of behavioral and biochemical pathways. Tauhis review focuses on some key hormonal and metabolic pathways that appear important today. In modern society, we are faced with excessive psychological stress, as well as an epidemic of overeating, and the two together appear to have synergistic effects. Chronic stress can lead to overeating, co-elevation of cortisol and insulin, and suppression of certain anabolic hormones. This state of metabolic stress in turn promotes abdominal adiposity. Both the direct stress response and the accumulation of visceral fat can promote a milieu of systemic inflammation and oxidative stress. This biochemical environment appears to be conducive to several cell aging mechanisms, mainly dampening telomerase and leading to telomere length (TL) shortening and cell senescence. Immune cell telomere shortness is linked with many chronic disease states and earlier mortality. In this way, chronic stress may influence a variety of diseases through a biochemical cascade leading to immune cell senescence. Certain psychological temperaments at high risk of this stress cascade (mainly anxiety prone), gene-environment interactions, and potential interventions for interrupting the stress-aging cascade are discussed.

Hormones (Athens). 2009 Jan-Mar;8(1):7-22.

Direct evidence for GABAergic activity of Withania somnifera on mammalian ionotropic GABAA and GABAρ receptors.

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Withania somnifera (WS) has been traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine as a remedy for debility, stress, nervous exhaustion, insomnia, loss of memory, and to enhance cognitive function. This study provides an empirical evidence to support the traditional use of WS to aid in mental process engaging GABAergic signaling. AIM OF THE STUDY: We evaluated the effect of aqueous WS root extract (aqWS), and its two main components, withaferin A and withanolide A, on the main inhibitory receptors in the central nervous system: ionotropic GABAA receptors. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The pharmacological activity of aqWS, withaferin A and withanolide A, was tested on native rat brain GABAA channels microtransplanted into Xenopus oocytes and GABAr1 receptors heterologously expressed in oocytes. The GABAergic activity of aqWS compounds was evaluated by the two-electrode voltage-clamp method and the fingerprint of the extract was done by LC-MS. RESULTS: Concentration-dependent inward ion currents were elicited by aqWS in microtransplanted oocytes with an EC50 equivalent to 4.7 mg/mL and a Hill coefficient (nH) of 1.6. The GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline blocked these currents. Our results show that aqWS activated inotropic GABAA channels but with lower efficacy compared to the endogenous agonist GABA. We also demonstrate for first time that aqWS is a potent agonist of GABAr1 receptors. GABAr1 receptors were 27 fold more sensitive to aqWS than GABAA receptors. Furthermore, aqWS activated GABAr1 receptors eliciting maximum currents that were no significantly different to those produced by GABA (paired t-test; p=0.533). The differential activity on GABAA and GABA r1 receptors and the reported lack of significant GABA presence in WS root extract indicates that the GABAergic activity of aqWS is not mediated by GABA. WS main active components, witaferin A and withanolide A, were tested to determine if they were responsible for the activation of the GABA receptors. Neither compound activated GABAA nor GABAr1 receptors, suggesting that other constituent/s in WS are responsible for GABAA receptor mediated responses. CONCLUSIONS: Our results provide evidence indicating that key constituents in WS may have an important role in the development of pharmacological treatments for neurological disorders associated with GABAergic signaling dysfunction such as general anxiety disorders, sleep disturbances, muscle spasms, and seizures. In addition, the differential activation of GABA receptor subtypes elucidates a potential mechanism by which WS accomplishes its reported adaptogenic properties.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Aug 2;171:264-72.

Short telomeres in depression and the general population are associated with a hypocortisolemic state.

BACKGROUND: The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis plays a central role in stress regulation, and leukocyte telomere length (TL) has been suggested to represent a cumulative measure of stress. Depression is intimately related with stress and frequently exhibits a dysregulated HPA axis. We aimed to study the relationships between TL and biological and psychological facets of stress in recurrent major depressive disorder and controls. METHODS: Leukocyte TL was measured in 91 subjects with recurrent major depressive disorder and 451 control subjects. Stress was assessed from both a biological perspective, by assessing HPA axis function with a weight-adjusted very-low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (DST), and a psychological perspective, with self-report questionnaires. RESULTS: TL was shorter among patients compared with control subjects (277 base pairs, p = .001). Overall, short TL was associated with a hypocortisolemic state (low post-DST cortisol and high percentage of cortisol reduction after the DST) among both patients and control subjects but more pronounced among patients. This state, which was overrepresented among patients, was characterized by high familial loading of affective disorders among patients (p = .001) and high C-reactive protein levels among control subjects (p = .040). TL was also inversely associated with stress measured with the Perceived Stress Questionnaire (r(s) = -.258, p = .003). CONCLUSIONS: Short TL is associated with depression and hypocortisolism. Because hypocortisolism has been shown to develop from chronic stress exposure, our findings corroborate the concept of TL as a cumulative measure of stress and provide novel insights into the detrimental role of stress in depressive illness and the general population.

Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Feb 15;71(4):294-300

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronan (HA) fragments induce chemokine gene expression in alveolar macrophages. The role of HA size and CD44.

Hyaluronan (HA) is a glycosaminoglycan constituent of extracellular matrix. In its native form HA exists as a high molecular weight polymer, but during inflammation lower molecular weight fragments accumulate. We have identified a collection of inflammatory genes induced in macrophages by HA fragments but not by high molecular weight HA. These include several members of the chemokine gene family: macrophage inflammatory protein-1alpha, macrophage inflammatory protein-1beta, cytokine responsive gene-2, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, and regulated on activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted. HA fragments as small as hexamers are capable of inducing expression of these genes in a mouse alveolar macrophage cell line, and monoclonal antibody to the HA receptor CD44 completely blocks binding of fluorescein-labeled HA to these cells and significantly inhibits HA-induced gene expression. We also investigated the ability of HA fragments to induce chemokine gene expression in human alveolar macrophages from patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and found that interleukin-8 mRNA is markedly induced. These data support the hypothesis that HA fragments generated during inflammation induce the expression of macrophage genes which are important in the development and maintenance of the inflammatory response.

J Clin Invest. 1996 Nov 15;98(10):2403-13.

Collagen fragments inhibit hyaluronan synthesis in skin fibroblasts in response to ultraviolet B (UVB): new insights into mechanisms of matrix remodeling.

UVB irradiation causes characteristic features of skin aging including remodeling of the dermal extracellular matrix. A key feature during this process is the up-regulation of matrix metalloproteinases and cleavage of collagen. Hyaluronic acid (HA), a major component of the dermal matrix, decreases after chronic UVB exposure. However, the factors that govern the decline of HA synthesis during the course of actinic aging are largely unknown. The aim of the present study was to explore whether collagen degradation causes inhibition of HA synthesis in human skin fibroblasts. After treatment of fibroblasts with collagen fragments (CF) in vitro, resolution of the actin cytoskeleton and inhibition of HA secretion occurred because of specific down-regulation of hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2) expression. The a(v)b(3)-agonist, RGDS, latrunculin A, and an inhibitor of Rho-activated kinase inhibited HAS2 expression. Conversely, blocking antibodies to a(v)b(3) abolished the down-regulation of HAS2 and the cytoskeletal effects. Furthermore, inhibition of cofilin phosphorylation in response to CF was prevented by a(v)b(3)-blocking antibodies. The key role of ERK signaling was shown by reduced nuclear accumulation of phosphoERK and of ELK-1 phosphorylation in response to CF. In addition, the ERK inhibitor PD98059 reduced HAS2 expression. Also, UVB irradiation of fibroblasts caused down-regulation of HAS2, which was sensitive to matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors and to a(v)b(3)-blocking antibodies. In conclusion, these data suggest that CF activate a(v)b(3)-integrins and in turn inhibit Rho kinase (ROCK) signaling and nuclear translocation of phosphoERK, resulting in reduced HAS2 expression. Therefore, a novel mechanism is presented how proteolytic collagen cleavage may inhibit HA synthesis in dermal fibroblasts during extrinsic skin aging.

J Biol Chem. 2011 May 20;286(20):18268-76.

Chronic ultraviolet B irradiation causes loss of hyaluronic acid from mouse dermis because of down-regulation of hyaluronic acid synthases.

Remodeling of the dermal extracellular matrix occurs during photoaging. Here, the effect of repetitive UVB irradiation on dermal hyaluronic acid (HA) was examined. C57/BL6 mice were chronically (182 days) irradiated with UVB, and consecutive skin biopsies were collected during the irradiation period and afterward (300 and 400 days of age). UVB caused marked loss of HA from the papillary dermis and down-regulation of HA synthase 1 (HAS1), HAS2, and HAS3 mRNA expression. In contrast, hyaluronidases (HYAL) 1, HYAL2, and HA receptor CD44 were unchanged. Furthermore, transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-beta1) and TGF-beta1-receptor II expression were decreased in UVB-irradiated biopsies, and TGF-beta1 strongly induced HAS1 and HAS2 expression in cultured dermal fibroblasts. Therefore, TGF-beta1 might be one factor involved in UVB-induced down-regulation of HAS enzymes. In addition, total cell number and the percentage of proliferating fibroblasts in the papillary dermis of UVB-irradiated mice were decreased. Down-regulation of HAS2 by lentiviral overexpression of short hairpin RNA in vitro caused inhibition of HA synthesis, DNA synthesis, and migration of dermal fibroblasts. In conclusion, chronic UVB irradiation induces loss of HA from the dermis, thereby contributing to the quiescent phenotype of dermal fibroblasts.

Am J Pathol. 2007 Nov;171(5):1451-61.

Hyaluronan: its nature, distribution, functions and turnover.

Hyaluronan is a polysaccharide found in all tissues and body fluids of vertebrates as well as in some bacteria. It is a linear polymer of exceptional molecular weight, especially abundant in loose connective tissue. Hyaluronan is synthesized in the cellular plasma membrane. It exists as a pool associated with the cell surface, another bound to other matrix components, and a largely mobile pool. A number of proteins, the hyaladherins, specifically recognize the hyaluronan structure. Interactions of this kind bind hyaluronan with proteoglycans to stabilize the structure of the matrix, and with cell surfaces to modify cell behaviour. Because of the striking physicochemical properties of hyaluronan solutions, various physiological functions have been assigned to it, including lubrication, water homeostasis, filtering effects and regulation of plasma protein distribution. In animals and man, the half-life of hyaluronan in tissues ranges from less than 1 to several days. It is catabolized by receptor-mediated endocytosis and lysosomal degradation either locally or after transport by lymph to lymph nodes which degrade much of it. The remainder enters the general circulation and is removed from blood, with a half-life of 2-5 min, mainly by the endothelial cells of the liver sinuoids.

J Intern Med. 1997 Jul;242(1):27-33.

Efficacy of cream-based novel formulations of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights in anti-wrinkle treatment.

BACKGROUND: Due to its strong water-binding potential, hyaluronic acid (HA) is a well-known active ingredient for cosmetic applications. Native HA is proposed to help the skin to retain and maintain elasticity, turgor and moisture. OBJECTIVE: To observe the efficacy of topical application of 0.1% hyaluronan formulations of different molecular weights (MW) (50, 130, 300, 800 and 2000 kDa, respectively) in the periocular area as anti-wrinkle treatment. MATERIAL AND METHODS: Seventy-six female subjects between 30 and 60 years of age with clinical signs of periocular wrinkles applied one of the formulations twice-daily to the area of interest in a randomized fashion for 60 days. Around the other eye, a vehicle control cream was applied. Measurements of skin hydration and skin elasticity were performed before treatment, 30 and 60 days thereafter. At similar time points negative replicas were taken and evaluated by semi-automated morphometry. RESULTS: All HA-based creams utilized in this study demonstrated a significant improvement in skin hydration and overall elasticity values (R2) when compared to placebo. Measurements of wrinkle depth using mean roughness (Ra) and maximum roughness (Rz) values revealed significant improvement in the 130 and the 50 kDa HA group after 60 days of treatment compared to placebo-treated area. CONCLUSION: Topical application of all 0.1% HA formulations used in this study led to significant improvement in skin hydration and elasticity. Application of low-molecular-weight (LMW) HA was associated with significant reduction of wrinkle depth, which may be due to better penetration abilities of LMW HA.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2011 Sep;10(9):990-1000.

Anti-aging and filling efficacy of six types hyaluronic acid based dermo-cosmetic treatment: double blind, randomized clinical trial of efficacy and safety.

BACKGROUND: Human skin aging is a multifactorial and complex biological process affecting the different skin constituents. Even if the skin aging mechanism is not yet fully unravelled is evident that epidermis loses the principal molecule responsible for binding and retaining water molecules, resulting in loss of skin moisture and accounting for some of the most striking alterations of the aged skin. OBJECTIVES: This Study investigated the cosmetic filling efficacy of Fillerina® in decreasing the skin aging signs and in improving facial volume deficiencies. METHODS: A placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized clinical trial was carried out on 40 healthy female subjects showing mild to moderate clinical signs of skin aging. The effect of the treatment on skin surface and on face volumes was assessed both in the short-term (3 h after a single product application) and in the long-term (7, 14, and 30 days after continuative daily use). RESULTS: Three hours after a single application and after 7, 14, and 30 days of treatment the lips volume was increased by 8.5%, 11.3%, 12.8%, and 14.2%. After 7, 14, and 30 days: (1) skin sagging of the face contours was decreased by -0.443 ± 0.286, -1.124 ± 0.511, and -1.326 ± 0.649 mm, respectively; (2) skin sagging of the cheekbones contours was decreased by -0.989 ± 0.585, -2.500 ± 0.929, and -2.517 ± 0.927 mm, respectively; (3) cheekbones volume was increased by 0.875 ± 0.519, 2.186 ± 0.781, and 2.275 ± 0.725 mm, respectively; (4) wrinkle volume was decreased by -11.3%, -18.4%, and -26.3%, respectively; and (5) wrinkle depth was decreased by -8.4%, -14.5%, and -21.8% respectively.CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated the positive filling effect of Fillerina® in decreasing the clinical signs of skin aging and in improving the face volumes.

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2014 Dec;13(4):277-87.

Hyaluronan-mediated angiogenesis in vascular disease: uncovering RHAMM and CD44 receptor signaling pathways.

The correct formation of new blood vessels from existing vasculature (angiogenesis) is essential for embryogenesis and the effective repair of damaged or wounded tissues. However, excessive and detrimental vascularization also occurs in neoplasia, promoting tumour growth and metastasis, as well as in proliferative diabetic retinopathy and atherosclerosis. Greater understanding of the mechanisms controlling the angiogenic process will allow optimization of wound healing, and provide mechanisms to inhibit vascularization in tumours and other diseases. Evidence supports a cascade of events in which the perturbation of one of the steps is sufficient to significantly inhibit neovascularization. The extracellular macromolecules, notably glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), are important mediators of angiogenesis. Hyaluronan (HA), a large, non-sulphated GAG, was first discovered in the vitreous of the eye [.], and is ubiquitously expressed in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of tissues. Native high molecular weight HA (n-HA) is anti-angiogenic, whereas HA degradation products (o-HA; 3-10 disaccharides) stimulate endothelial cell (EC) proliferation, migration and tube formation following activation of specific HA receptors in particular, CD44 and Receptor for HA-Mediated Motility (RHAMM, CD168). The involvement of HA in the regulation of angiogenesis makes it an attractive therapeutic target. We review the role of o-HA in modulation of angiogenesis during tissue injury, and vascular disease, focusing on receptor-mediated signal transduction pathways that have been evaluated.

Matrix Biol. 2007 Jan;26(1):58-68.

Hyaluronic acid promotes angiogenesis by inducing RHAMM-TGFβ receptor interaction via CD44-PKCδ.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) has been shown to promote angiogenesis. However, the mechanism behind this effect remains largely unknown. Therefore, in this study, the mechanism of HA-induced angiogenesis was examined. CD44 and PKCd were shown to be necessary for induction of the receptor for HA-mediated cell motility (RHAMM), a HA-binding protein. RHAMM was necessary for HA-promoted cellular invasion and endothelial cell tube formation. Cytokine arrays showed that HA induced the expression of plasminogen activator-inhibitor-1 (PAI), a downstream target of TGFb receptor signaling. The induction of PAI-1 was dependent on CD44 and PKCd. HA also induced an interaction between RHAMM and TGFb receptor I, and induction of PAI-1 was dependent on RHAMM and TGFb receptor I. Histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3), which is decreased by HA via rac1, reduced induction of plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) by HA. ERK, which interacts with RHAMM, was necessary for induction of PAI-1 by HA. Snail, a downstream target of TGFb signaling, was also necessary for induction of PAI-1. The down regulation of PAI-1 prevented HA from enhancing endothelial cell tube formation and from inducing expression of angiogenic factors, such as ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and MMP-2. HDAC3 also exerted reduced expression of MMP-2. In this study, we provide a novel mechanism of HA-promoted angiogenesis, which involved RHAMM-TGFbRI signaling necessary for induction of PAI-1.

Mol Cells. 2012 Jun;33(6):563-74

Hyaluronan in the rat with special reference to the skin.

The total hyaluronan content has been determined in rats. The animals were frozen and sectioned in a cryostat before digestion with papain and pronase. The hyaluronan content was determined by a specific radioassay and it was found that 250 g rats contained 40-60 mg of the polysaccharide. The recovery from the preparation procedure was close to 100%, as determined from tracer experiments. More than half of the hyaluronan was found in skin, approximately one quarter in the skeleton and supporting structures and less than one tenth in skeletal muscle. Based on calculated lymph flow and lymph concentration of hyaluronan, it seems that a significant fraction of the total hyaluronan in skin (greater than 1%) is removed via the lymphatics in a 24 h period. An attempt was made to isolate undegraded hyaluronan from rat skin by gentle methods giving full recovery in order to estimate the molecular weight of the polysaccharide. Hyaluronan was recovered quantitatively, but as determined from added tracer, it had been degraded. Correction for the estimated degradation gave a molecular weight of several millions for the endogenous hyaluronan.

Acta Physiol Scand. 1988 Nov;134(3):405-11.

Hyaluronan and its catabolic products in tissue injury and repair.

Hyaluronan is an unbiquitous glycosaminoglycan present in most tissues. Under homeostatic conditions hyaluronan exists as a high molecular mass polymer that has important roles in tissue structural integrity. Under conditions of stress such as following tissue injury, hyaluronan becomes depolymerized and lower molecular mass polymers are generated. The biological properties of these hyaluronan fragments appear to be distinct from the larger precursor molecules. This review examines the biological role of hyaluronan fragments in tissue injury and repair.

Matrix Biol. 2002 Jan;21(1):25-9.

Enhancing structural support of the dermal microenvironment activates fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and keratinocytes in aged human skin in vivo.

The dermal extracellular matrix (ECM) provides strength and resiliency to skin. The ECM consists mostly of type I collagen fibrils, which are produced by fibroblasts. Binding of fibroblasts to collagen fibrils generates mechanical forces, which regulate cellular morphology and function. With aging, collagen fragmentation reduces fibroblast-ECM binding and mechanical forces, resulting in fibroblast shrinkage and reduced function, including collagen production. Here, we report that these age-related alterations are largely reversed by enhancing the structural support of the ECM. Injection of dermal filler, cross-linked hyaluronic acid, into the skin of individuals over 70 years of age stimulates fibroblasts to produce type I collagen. This stimulation is associated with localized increase in mechanical forces, indicated by fibroblast elongation/spreading, and mediated by upregulation of type II TGF-b receptor and connective tissue growth factor. Interestingly, enhanced mechanical support of the ECM also stimulates fibroblast proliferation, expands vasculature, and increases epidermal thickness. Consistent with our observations in human skin, injection of filler into dermal equivalent cultures causes elongation of fibroblasts, coupled with type I collagen synthesis, which is dependent on the TGF-b signaling pathway. Thus, fibroblasts in aged human skin retain their capacity for functional activation, which is restored by enhancing structural support of the ECM.

J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Mar;133(3):658-667.

Hyaluronic acid fillers: a comprehensive review.

Over the past decade, the popularity of nonsurgical cosmetic procedures has increased exponentially. Last year, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 5 million procedures were performed using cosmetic injectables such as botulinum toxin and dermal filling agents. According to the society’s recent statistics, more than 85% of all dermal filler procedures occurred with a hyaluronic acid derivative.These numbers are expected to rise in the future as there is currently no other class of filling agent that rivals the popularity of hyaluronic acid. The popularity of hyaluronic acid specifically stems from its effectiveness, ease of administration, and safety profile.

Facial Plast Surg. 2009 May;25(2):86-94.

Plant ceramides

Decreased level of ceramides in stratum corneum of atopic dermatitis: an etiologic factor in atopic dry skin?

Stratum corneum lipids are an important determinant for both water-retention function and permeability-barrier function in the stratum corneum. However, their major constituent, ceramides, have not been analyzed in detail in skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis that show defective water-retention and permeability-barrier function. In an attempt to assess the quantity of ceramides per unit mass of the stratum corneum in atopic dermatitis, stratum corneum sheet was removed from the forearm skin by stripping with cyanoacrylate resin and placed in hexane/ethanol extraction to yield stratum corneum lipids. The stratum corneum was dispersed by solubilization of cyanoacrylate resin with dimethylformamide, and after membrane filtration, the weight of the stratum corneum mass was measured. The ceramides were quantified by thin-layer chromatography and evaluated as microgram/mg stratum corneum. In the forearm skin of healthy individuals (n = 65), the total ceramide content significantly declined with increasing age. In atopic dermatitis (n = 32-35), there was a marked reduction in the amount of ceramides in the lesional forearm skin compared with those of healthy individuals of the same age. Interestingly, the non-lesional skin also exhibited a similar and significant decrease of ceramides. Among six ceramide fractions, ceramide 1 was most significantly reduced in both lesional and non-lesional skin. These findings suggest that an insufficiency of ceramides in the stratum corneum is an etiologic factor in atopic dry skin.

J Invest Dermatol. 1991 Apr;96(4):523-6.

Ceramides and skin function.

Ceramides are the major lipid constituent of lamellar sheets present in the intercellular spaces of the stratum corneum. These lamellar sheets are thought to provide the barrier property of the epidermis. It is generally accepted that the intercellular lipid domain is composed of approximately equimolar concentrations of free fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides. Ceramides are a structurally heterogeneous and complex group of sphingolipids containing derivatives of sphingosine bases in amide linkage with a variety of fatty acids. Differences in chain length, type and extent of hydroxylation, saturation etc. are responsible for the heterogeneity of the epidermal sphingolipids. It is well known that ceramides play an essential role in structuring and maintaining the water permeability barrier function of the skin. In conjunction with the other stratum corneum lipids, they form ordered structures. An essential factor is the physical state of the lipid chains in the nonpolar regions of the bilayers. The stratum corneum intercellular lipid lamellae, the aliphatic chains in the ceramides and the fatty acids are mostly straight long-chain saturated compounds with a high melting point and a small polar head group. This means that at physiological temperatures, the lipid chains are mostly in a solid crystalline or gel state, which exhibits low lateral diffusional properties and is less permeable than the state of liquid crystalline membranes, which are present at higher temperatures. The link between skin disorders and changes in barrier lipid composition, especially in ceramides, is difficult to prove because of the many variables involved. However, most skin disorders that have a diminished barrier function present a decrease in total ceramide content with some differences in the ceramide pattern. Formulations containing lipids identical to those in skin and, in particular, some ceramide supplementation could improve disturbed skin conditions. Incomplete lipid mixtures yield abnormal lamellar body contents, and disorder intercellular lamellae, whereas complete lipid mixtures result in normal lamellar bodies and intercellular bilayers. The utilization of physiological lipids according to these parameters have potential as new forms of topical therapy for dermatoses. An alternative strategy to improving barrier function by topical application of the various mature lipid species is to enhance the natural lipid-synthetic capability of the epidermis through the topical delivery of lipid precursors.

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2003;4(2):107-29.

Age-dependent changes in stratum corneum barrier function.

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: The Stratum Corneum (SC) barrier function mainly depends on the SC structure at the tissue level, its composition, and the organization of intercellular lipidic cement at the molecular level. The goal of this study was to assess the age-dependent changes of the SC barrier function and the associated physiological parameters. METHODS: This study was conducted on 40 French women divided into four groups of age. Measurements were done on three sites: cheek, protected, and exposed arm sites. SC composition (water, lipid/protein ratio, cholesterol, and ceramides) was measured using Raman confocal microspectroscopy, skin surface hydration using skin conductance, and barrier function through transepidermal water loss (TEWL) measurements. RESULTS: Transepidermal water loss decreases slightly with age, which is partially explained by the age-dependent increase in SC thickness. This decrease is faster for the face compared to both arm sites. The lipid to protein ratio and lipid compactness decrease significantly with age only for the arm sites. Water concentration profiles only decrease very close to the skin surface. At all ages tested, the SC on the cheek showed significantly higher TEWL, water and lipid content and less thickness compared to the arm sites. Comparison of the exposed to unexposed arm site showed difference only for the lipid compactness at the older group studied. CONCLUSION: Skin aging, body site and environmental exposure can affect the SC barrier function, its structure, and its lipid content. The thickening of the SC with age compensates for the decrease of the quantity and ordering of the lipidic cement.

Skin Res Technol. 2014 Nov;20(4):409-15.

Ceramide synthesis in the epidermis.

The epidermis and in particular its outermost layer the stratum corneum provides terrestrial vertebrates with a pivotal defensive barrier against water loss, xenobiotics and harmful pathogens. A vital demand for this epidermal permeability barrier is the lipid-enriched lamellar matrix that embeds the enucleated corneocytes. Ceramides are the major components of these highly ordered intercellular lamellar structures, in which linoleic acid- and protein-esterified ceramides are crucial for structuring and maintaining skin barrier integrity. In this review, we describe the fascinating diversity of epidermal ceramides including 1-O-acylceramides. We focus on epidermal ceramide biosynthesis emphasizing its metabolic and topological requirements and discuss enzymes that may be involved in a- and w-hydroxylation. Finally, we turn to epidermal ceramide regulation, highlighting transcription factors and liposensors recently described to play crucial roles in modulating skin lipid metabolism and epidermal barrier homeostasis. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier.

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Mar;1841(3):422-34.

In vivo studies of the evolution of physical properties of the human skin with age.

In vivo measurements taken by valid methods, help to interpret the phenomena associated with the aging process. The authors developed some routine techniques to measure physical properties of the skin both deep in the dermis-epidermis and at the surface (stratum corneum). Measurements on the forearm of 150 people yielded the following results regarding the dermis-epidermis level: (1) skin thickness begins to decrease at 45 years of age for men and women, when women’s skin becomes thinner than men’s skin; (2) torsion extensibility, normalized for a given skin thickness, sharply decreases after 35 years of age; (3) skin optical properties are modified, ie the photoplethysmographic signal, measured on the forehead, greatly increase after 60 years of age; (4) at the cutaneous surface level, the main modifications are increased shedding of stratum corneum after 60 years of age in parallel with a modification of the stratum corneum cohesivity, altered skin microrelief during the aging process, and slightly decreased transepidermal water loss while the corneocyte projected size increases. These findings allow consideration of the aging process at the skin level as a phased process. The alterations of the physical properties and their kinetics suggest a various process according to the different cutaneous sections.

Int J Dermatol. 1984 Jun;23(5):322-9.

Effect of lipid-containing, positively charged nanoemulsions on skin hydration, elasticity and erythema--an in vivo study.

Dry skin and other skin disorders such as atopic dermatitis are characterized by impaired stratum corneum (SC) barrier function and by an increase in transepidermal water loss (TEWL) leading to a decrease in skin hydration. The possibility that dermatological and cosmetic products containing SC lipids could play a part in the restoration of disturbed skin barrier function is of great interest in the field of dermatology and cosmetics. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of positively charged oil/water nanoemulsions (PN) containing ceramide 3B and naturally found SC lipids (PNSC) such as ceramide 3, cholesterol, and palmitic acid on skin hydration, elasticity, and erythema. Creams of PNSC were compared to PN creams, to creams with negatively charged o/w nanoemulsion and SC lipids (NNSC) and to Physiogel cream, a SC lipid containing formulation, which is already on the market. The formulations (PN, PNSC, and NNSC) were prepared by high-pressure homogenization. After adding Carbopol 940 as thickener, particle size and stability of the creams were not significantly changed compared to the nanoemulsions. The studies were carried out on three groups, each with 14 healthy female test subjects between 25 and 50 years of age, using Corneometer 825, Cutometer SEM 575 and Mexameter 18 for measurements of skin hydration, elasticity, and erythema of the skin, respectively. The creams were applied regularly and well tolerated throughout the study. All formulations increased skin hydration and elasticity. There was no significant difference between PNSC and Physiogel. However, PNSC was significantly more effective in increasing skin hydration and elasticity than PN and NNSC indicating that phytosphingosine inducing the positive charge, SC lipids and ceramide 3B are crucial for the enhanced effect on skin hydration and viscoelasticity.

Int J Pharm. 2006 Jan 13;307(2):232-8.

Hand dermatitis: review of etiology, diagnosis, and treatment.

Hand dermatitis is a common condition seen in the primary care setting. Occupational exposures and frequent hand washing often lead to symptoms that are irritating and may cause discomfort. Irritant dermatitis, atopic hand dermatitis and contact hand dermatitis account for at least 70% of all diagnoses. A unifying feature in most cases is an underlying disruption in the stratum corneum, altering its barrier function. Transepidermal water loss increases with barrier disruption and is exacerbated by additional exposure to water. Precise diagnosis and subsequent treatment present a considerable challenge, and hand dermatitis often becomes chronic. Initial treatment should be aimed at controlling inflammation and restoring the skin’s natural barrier. Common management recommendations include the avoidance of irritants and potential allergens along with the use of emollients and topical corticosteroids to decrease inflammation. Simple petroleum-based emollients are very effective at restoring hydration and repairing the stratum corneum. Referral to a Dermatologist or an Allergist may be necessary for patients who require patch testing or those with refractory symptoms.

J Am Board Fam Med. 2009 May-Jun;22(3): 325-30.

The clinical relevance of maintaining the functional integrity of the stratum corneum in both healthy and disease-affected skin.

It has been recognized for approximately 50 years that the stratum corneum exhibits biological properties that contribute directly to maintaining and sustaining healthy skin. Continued basic science and clinical research coupled with keen clinical observation has led to more recent recognition and general acceptance that the stratum corneum completes many vital “barrier” tasks, including but not limited to regulating epidermal water content and the magnitude of water loss; mitigating exogenous oxidants that can damage components of skin via an innate antioxidant system; preventing or limiting cutaneous infection via multiple antimicrobial peptides; responding via innate immune mechanisms to “cutaneous invaders” of many origins, including microbes, true allergens, and other antigens; and protecting its neighboring cutaneous cells and structures that lie beneath from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. Additionally, specific abnormalities of the stratum corneum are associated with the clinical expression of certain disease states. This article provides a thorough “primer” for the clinician, reviewing the multiple normal homeostatic functions of the stratum corneum and the cutaneous challenges that arise when individual functions of this thin yet very active epidermal layer are compromised by exogenous and/or endogenous factors.

J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011 Sep;4(9):22-42.

The skin: an indispensable barrier.

The skin forms an effective barrier between the organism and the environment preventing invasion of pathogens and fending off chemical and physical assaults, as well as the unregulated loss of water and solutes. In this review we provide an overview of several components of the physical barrier, explaining how barrier function is regulated and altered in dermatoses. The physical barrier is mainly localized in the stratum corneum (SC) and consists of protein-enriched cells (corneocytes with cornified envelope and cytoskeletal elements, as well as corneodesmosomes) and lipid-enriched intercellular domains. The nucleated epidermis also contributes to the barrier through tight, gap and adherens junctions, as well as through desmosomes and cytoskeletal elements. During epidermal differentiation lipids are synthesized in the keratinocytes and extruded into the extracellular domains, where they form extracellular lipid-enriched layers. The cornified cell envelope, a tough protein/lipid polymer structure, resides below the cytoplasmic membrane on the exterior of the corneocytes. Ceramides A and B are covalently bound to cornified envelope proteins and form the backbone for the subsequent addition of free ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol in the SC. Filaggrin is cross-linked to the cornified envelope and aggregates keratin filaments into macrofibrils. Formation and maintenance of barrier function is influenced by cytokines, 3’,5’-cyclic adenosine monophosphate and calcium. Changes in epidermal differentiation and lipid composition lead to a disturbed skin barrier, which allows the entry of environmental allergens, immunological reaction and inflammation in atopic dermatitis. A disturbed skin barrier is important for the pathogenesis of contact dermatitis, ichthyosis, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

Exp Dermatol. 2008 Dec;17(12):1063-72.

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