Maple trees are best known for their maple syrup and lovely fall foliage. But it turns out that the beauty of those leaves could be skin-deep -- and that's a good thing. Today, scientists report that an extract from the leaves may prevent wrinkles. The researchers are presenting their results at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world's largest scientific society, is holding the meeting in Boston August 19-August 23, 2018. The ACS meeting features more than 10,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics. The maple leaf scientists had previously studied the chemistry and health benefits of sap and syrup obtained from sugar maple and red maple trees. Historical records suggested that other parts of the trees could also be useful, according to Navindra P. Seeram, PhD, the project's principal investigator. "Native Americans used leaves from red maple trees in their traditional system of medicine," he notes, "so why should we ignore the leaves?" Skin elasticity is maintained by proteins such as elastin. Wrinkles form when the enzyme elastase breaks down elastin in the skin as part of the aging process. "We wanted to see whether leaf extracts from red maple trees could block the activity of elastase," says Hang Ma, PhD, who is presenting the work at the ACS meeting and is a research associate in Dr. Seeram's lab. The researchers, who are at the University of Rhode Island, zeroed in on phenolic compounds in the leaves known as glucitol-core-containing gallotannins (GCGs) and examined each compound's ability to inhibit elastase activity in a test tube.
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