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Understanding Cytokines and Cell Communication

By: Michael Q. Pugliese and Peter T. Pugliese, MD
Posted: October 31, 2013, from the November 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Understanding Cytokines and Cell Communication

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Psoriasis affects approximately 2% of the population in the United States. The keratinocyte has been the object of intense study in the cause and treatment of psoriasis. It is well known that keratinocytes contribute to the skin immune response and are able to express a new cytokine known as IL-23. This cytokine is part of the interferon family. Studies have shown that very low levels of IL-23 were sufficient to increase the production of IFN gamma by T-cells. It was also noted that this cytokine would be fine in the dermal compartment. For many years, scientists have looked at the dermis for the origin of psoriasis. IL-23 may become an important target for therapeutic possibilities and psoriasis.

Improve skin aging

By understanding and incorporating the knowledge of cell communication and the use of cytokines, the opportunities for cosmetic formulators become very exciting. The practitioner need not master all of the information presented here. It is important to know this is an area of expansion into a higher level of cosmetic chemistry. One esthetic application to take away related to cytokine processes is the use of topical products on aging skin that has been damaged by destruction to the collagen. It has been shown that regular use of a product formulated with effective peptides can markedly improve aging skin’s appearance. One material, Telangyn by Lipotec, a tetrapeptide, has demonstrated a statistically significant effect on collagenase, stimulating a positive anti-inflammatory response and reducing redness. In the coming years, the impact of an increased understanding of scientific processes within the skin will bring sophisticated new formulations that provide visible and lasting benefits to clients.


JG Hardman, LE Limbird and AG Gilman, Goodman & Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics McGraw-Hill, New York (2001)

SL Kunkel and DG Remick, Cytokines in Health and Disease, Marcel Dekker, New York (1992)