Some individuals’ skin appears more youthful than their chronologic age. Although many people try to achieve this appearance with creams, lotions, injections, and surgeries, new research published online on November 14, 2017 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology indicates that increased expression of certain genes may be the key to intrinsically younger-looking, and younger-behaving, skin. The JAAD article is titled “Age-Induced and Photoinduced Changes in Gene Expression Profiles in Facial Skin of Caucasian Females Across 6 Decades of Age.” “It’s not just the genes you are born with, but which ones turn on and off over time,” said lead author Alexa B. Kimball, MD, MPH, a dermatologist and President and CEO of Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who conducted research for the study while previously at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We found a wide range of processes in the skin affected by aging, and we discovered specific gene expression patterns in women who appear younger than their chronologic age.” To produce a comprehensive model of aging skin, Dr. Kimball and her colleagues collected and integrated data at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels from the sun-exposed skin (face and forearm) and sun-protected skin (buttocks) of 158 white women ages 20 to 74 years. As part of the study, the team looked for gene expression patterns common in women who appeared years younger than their chronologic age. The physical appearance of facial skin was captured through digital images and analysis. Skin samples were processed for analysis and saliva samples were collected for genotyping. The analyses revealed progressive changes from the 20s to the 70s in pathways related to oxidative stress, energy metabolism, senescence (aging), and skin barrier.These changes were accelerated in the 60s and 70s. Comparing sun-exposed and sun-protected skin samples revealed that certain genetic changes are likely due to photoaging.
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