Enzyme activity in skin cells found to decline with age

“Breakthrough” in understanding of ageing skin at Newcastle University

Scientists at Newcastle University in the UK have identified that the activity of a key metabolic enzyme in human skin cells declines with age. In a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology the activity of mitochondrial complex II was seen to significantly decrease in older skin cells.

Mark Birch-Machin, Professor of Molecular Dermatology at Newcastle University, lead the study with Dr Amy Bowman, Research Associate at Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine. Birch-Machin explained: “Our study shows, for the first time, that with increasing age there is a specific decrease in the activity of a key metabolic enzyme found in the batteries of human skin cells. This enzyme is the hinge between the two important ways of making energy in our skin cells and a decrease in its activity contributes to decreased bio-energy in ageing skin.”

The findings are thought to bring a new level of understanding to the ageing process and how cosmetics could be modified to counteract the decline in enzyme activity. Birch-Machin added: “Our research means that we now have a specific biomarker, or a target, for developing and screening anti-ageing treatments and cosmetic creams that may counter this decline in bio-energy.”

The scientist also said that the research may now lead to the creation of anti-ageing treatments tailored to differently aged and pigmented skin.

Further studies into the functional consequences of this decline are now required to establish how the research can be used in developing anti-ageing treatments for the skin.

Dr Bowman added: “Our work brings us one step closer to understanding how these vital cell structures may be contributing to human ageing, with the hope of eventually specifically targeting areas of the mitochondria in an attempt to counteract the signs of ageing.”