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New Research Shows a Reverse in Skin Aging

Posted: December 3, 2007

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Chang and Adler tested whether blocking the activity of NF-kappa-B in the skin of older mice for two weeks had a youthful effect. “We found a pretty striking reversal to that of the young skin,” Chang said.

First they looked at the genetic changes resulting from blocking NF-kappa-B. After two weeks, the skin of 2-year-old mice had the same genes active as cells in the skin of newborn mice—a striking difference when compared with the skin of a normal 2-year-old mouse. The skin looked more youthful too. It was thicker and more cells appeared to be dividing, much like the skin of a younger mouse.

Chang and Adler caution that their findings aren’t likely to be the source of the long-sought fountain of youth. That’s because they don’t know if the rejuvenating effects of NF-kappa-B are long-lasting. Also, the protein has roles in cancer, the immune system and a range of other functions throughout the body. Suppressing the protein on a long-term basis could very well result in cancers or other diseases that undermine its otherwise youthful effect.

“You might get a longer lifespan but at the expense of something else,” Chang said.

Instead, the researchers believe their work could point to a way of helping older people heal more quickly after surgery or boost organ function during illness. These short-term applications aren’t as likely to risk side effects that could accompany blocking such a critical protein.