Two new drug molecules were found to prevent skin from aging when exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun, a study has found. These molecules can generate small amounts of gas hydrogen sulfide that helps with preventing skin aging.
The study about the molecules, identified as AP39 and AP123, was conducted by professors from the University of Exeter Medical School and with the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital at the Mahidol University. It was recently published in Antioxidant and Redox Signaling.
For the study, the researchers used the two molecules and exposed adult human skin cells as well as the skin of mice to ultraviolet radiation. They did this because ultraviolet radiation is part of the natural sunlight that damages unprotected skin. It can even penetrate through the windows of a home and some clothing. Once the skin is damaged by ultraviolet radiation, it causes the skin to age prematurely because it activates the skin digesting enzymes called collagenases. The enzymes then consume the skin’s natural collagen making the skin less elastic and saggy. This is a factor for the wrinkling of the skin.
Aside from wrinkling, the ultraviolet radiation, if it penetrates deeper into a person’s skin, could cause sunburn, skin cancer, and more. The current sun creams that people use only protect the outer layers of the skin. They do not penetrate the skin to protect the deeper layers from the long-lasting damages mentioned above. But the latest molecules seem to repair this problem. As per the research, the molecules penetrated the skin to correct collagenases activated by the ultraviolet radiation. They even further prevented the activation of more collagenases.
One of the lead authors of the research, Professor Uraiwan Panich, of the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, in Bangkok, said: “The compounds AP39 and AP123 specifically target the energy-generating machinery inside our cells, the mitochondria, and supply them with minute quantities of alternative fuel, hydrogen sulfide, to use when skin cells are stressed by UVA. The direct result of this was the activation of two protective mechanisms. One is a protein call PGC-1α, which controls mitochondria number inside cells and regulates energy balance. The other is Nrf2, which turns on a set of protective genes that mitigate UVA damage to skin and turn off the production of collagenase, the main enzyme that breaks down collagen in damaged skin tissue and causes skin to look significantly more ‘aged.’”
This is not the first time the molecules were studied. In the past, they were studied for their impressive effect in reducing skin inflammation and skin damages because of a burn injury and atopic dermatitis.
The authors of the latest research on the two molecules hope to get more information to develop long-term solutions for ultraviolet-related problems and even cosmetic-related issues.