Breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms of skin aging
Researchers at the University of Newcastle, working under the guidance of Professor Mark Birch-Machin, have found that the activity of a key metabolic enzyme known as mitochondrial complex II in skin cells decreases significantly with age.
Mitochondria are energy centers that supply the cell with the energy necessary to maintain vital activity, and mitochondrial complex II acts as a link between two important mechanisms of energy production. Therefore, a decrease in its activity contributes to a decrease in the bioenergetics of aging skin cells. The infamous results of this are the appearance and deepening of wrinkles and sagging skin.
As part of the study, the activity of mitochondrial complex II was measured in skin cells (fibroblasts) of 27 donors, whose age ranged from 6 to 72 years. Skin samples were isolated from areas of skin protected from sunlight.
The activity of key mitochondrial enzymes involved in the production of energy consumed by fibroblasts was measured in cells isolated from the outer (epidermis) and inner (dermis) layers of the skin.
As a result, it was found that the activity of mitochondrial complex II significantly decreases with age at the level of individual mitochondria, and, unexpectedly for researchers, it turned out that this decrease is more pronounced in dermal cells than in epidermal cells.
A more detailed study of the issue showed that the registered decrease in activity is due to a decrease in the amount of the enzyme. Moreover, it turned out that this decrease occurs only in cells that have stopped proliferating.
The researchers note that they now have at their disposal a specific biomarker or target for the development and screening of anti-aging interventions and cosmetic products that prevent the extinction of mitochondrial complex II activity.
In addition, the data obtained can help to understand in more detail the features of aging of other organs and tissues, which will facilitate the fight against various age-related diseases, including cancer. However, in order to understand the functional consequences of the extinction of mitochondrial complex II activity in different cell types, further research is necessary.
The article by Amy Bowman and Mark A. Birch-Machin Age-Dependent Decline of Mitochondrial Complex II Activity in Human Skin Fibroblasts is published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.