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Targeting Skin Renewal With Peptides

By: April Zangl
Posted: October 31, 2012, from the November 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
professional skin care client applying peptide-based serum

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Topical peptides made their debut as skin care ingredients with the copper peptide, a carrier peptide known for delivering the wound-healing benefits of copper deeper within the skin, and palmitoyl pentapeptide-3, a signal peptide that was first offered as a retinol alternative for its outstanding performance and applicable use for all skin types, even sensitive skin. This first-generation peptide was shown to reactivate the signal for collagen I and IV, which restored skin thickness.2

While these first-generation topical peptides intrigued the skin care industry, second- and third-generation peptides are captivating the industry once again with their ability to address a broad range of aging concerns. One of these areas is the dermal epidermal junction (DEJ). The DEJ holds the skin together, improving its compactness, firmness and elasticity. It maintains skin cohesion and anchors the epidermis to the dermis. Imagine the skin as plates held together by a series of chain links. If one of these links becomes weak and breaks, the plates will slip. As the protein-composed links, such as laminin and integrin, become weak within the DEJ, the skin begins to sag, and loses elasticity and resilience.

Signal peptides. Syn-Tacks from Pentapharm, based on palmitoyl dipeptide-5, is a dual peptide that reinforces multiple proteins within the skin, including laminin and integrin, while strengthening collagen IV, VII and XVII. By reinforcing and anchoring the skin together, this signaling peptide lays a foundation for firmer, thicker, more elastic skin. Signal peptides behave as dispatchers, signaling cells to carry out specific functions, such as collagen support, just like proteins are required by hormones to transmit messages throughout the body. These messages can either be for an increased action or decreased action, which overlaps with the enzyme-inhibitor peptide category. This category works to either inhibit protein-degrading enzymes, or initiate responses to repair damaged or weakened tissues. Proteins support neurotransmitters in the brain and peptides help support processes in the skin by inhibiting communication within neurons. Peptides strengthen and nourish the skin in the same way that protein nourishes and strengthens the body. They enhance the delivery of nutrients by acting as transportation vehicles, and sources of strength and support to the skin.

Perfection Peptide P3 by Mibelle AG Biochemistry, or hexanoyl dipeptide-3 norleucine acetate, is another signal peptide that takes an age-defying approach closer to the role of enzymes or alpha hydroxy acids through exfoliation. As a person ages, cell turnover slows, leading to an increased appearance of wrinkles, accompanied by a rougher texture and reduced hydration. Desquamation requires the degradation of connections between the corneocytes that are formed by cell-adhesion proteins. Hexanoyl dipeptide-3 norleucine acetate competes for the bond that holds skin cells together, loosening skin cells and presenting a gentle method of exfoliation, helping skin become smoother, brighter and more evenly hydrated.

Enzyme-inhibitor peptides. Enzyme-inhibitor peptides help reduce the effects of enzymes, such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs are enzymes involved in the degradation of proteins, including collagen. Reducing their actions can be just as important as strengthening collagen. Trylagen from Lipotec, based on tripeptide-10, citrulline and tripeptide-1, is a dual peptide combined with two hydrolyzed proteins that helps reduce enzymatic destruction caused by MMPs. Trylagen combats skin aging in three ways: by boosting collagen I, III and IV; by reducing the rate of collagen degradation; and by organizing this complex network.

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