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Stem Cell Science & Age Management of Skin

By: Christine Heathman
Posted: May 26, 2010, from the June 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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The innate aging process is made worse via UV radiation, chemical compositions of tissue change, sun, pollution, heat, smoking, drugs, stress, diet and other environmental factors affecting the challenge of skin aging. Because of this, new revolutionary ingredients that combat chronological aging, reduce superficial and deep wrinkles, delay senescence of essential cells, and preserve the youthful appearance and vitality of skin have been discovered using the biotechnology of plant stem cell extracts. Plant stem cell extracts have been proven to protect skin from UV oxidative stress and inhibit inflammation; control UV-induced matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activation, collagen loss and tissue damage; and combat destructive free radical injury that leads to photoaging.2

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are unprogrammed cells that can differentiate into a cell with specific functions. They are related to longevity and have a unique growth characteristic allowing them to make identical copies of themselves, as well as differentiate to become specialized cells. Stem cells have the capacity to replenish themselves through self-renewal, and the ability to generate differentiated cells. Each cell, whether stem cell or differentiated cell, has the same DNA—or genes—but a stem cell’s characteristic depends on signals from the microenvironment, such as neighboring cells that form a function. Principally, there are signals inside each cell that control its fate called epigenetic signals. They are tags on the DNA or surrounding histone proteins regulating the switching on or off of genes.

The most remarkable feature of cells is their ability to reproduce. Any cell is simply a compartment with a watery interior separated from the external environment by a surface membrane, which can be thought of as a plasma film, preventing the free flow of molecules in and out of the cell. The simplest type of reproduction entails the division of a parent cell into two daughter cells. This occurs as part of the cell cycle, a series of events that prepares a cell to divide followed by the actual division process, called mitosis.

In single-cell organisms, both daughter cells often resemble the parent cell. In multicellular organisms, stem cells can give rise to two different cells: one that resembles the parent cell and one that does not.

Stem cells and skin

High-tech plant cell cultures have been harnessed to protect skin stem cells based on the science of botanical wound-healing. To understand how these ingredients function, it is important to understand the relationship of the stem cell population with other cells of the skin.