Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


Scientists Uncover a Protein That Seems to Fight Aging in Our Skin

The fountain of youth may flow in our skin.

D-briefBy Megan SchmidtApril 5, 2019 1:26 AM
Woman Skin Aging Lotion - Shutterstock
(Credit: Rustle/Shutterstock)


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

In the quest for everlasting youth, many women buy hope in a jar. But despite being a multi-billion dollar industry, many skin creams and serums on the market don’t deliver the age-defying results they promise. But now, scientists say that it may be possible to reverse our skin's timeline at the cellular level.

In a new paper published in Nature, a research team found that a collagen protein called COL17A1 plays a key role in maintaining youthful skin. Declining levels of this protein over time cause our skin to develop wrinkles, sag, and lose its elasticityaccording to the paper. It's giving scientists fresh insights into how and why time changes the building blocks of our skin.  The team based their study on mice tails, but they say that tail skin shares many of the same characteristics as human skin.

Forever Young

The idea that the strong survive and the weak perish is found throughout nature. But it also plays a role in our skin's rejuvenation process. Skin continually rebuilds itself and produces new cells. And, it seems that COL17A1 is instrumental in ensuring that stronger skin cells survive.

The scientists say that COL17A1 helps promote the replication of stronger skin cells, pushing out weaker cells. But time and DNA damage, acquired from skin stressors like sun exposure or smoking, causes COL17A1 levels to decline.

As a result, weaker cells take over and produce skin that’s thinner, more frail and slower to heal from wounds. But the researchers found that boosting COL17A1 through genetic modification helped skin curb the effects of aging.

In addition to discovering the importance of COL17A1 in the skin’s aging process, the team also found that it was possible to stimulate COL17A1 production by applying two chemical compounds to skin cells — Y27632 and apocynin.

The researchers say these compounds improved skin regeneration and wound healing. The work could eventually lead to new creams or lotions that could fight aging and speed up wound healing. And the researchers say that their findings could provide a path to understanding how cell competition plays a role in how other organs age.

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In