Epigenetic mechanisms have been studied in depth along the past decade due to their interesting ability to control gene activity beyond the information in the DNA sequence. Among the processes regulated at the epigenetic level are epidermal renewal and homeostasis.
Epidermal basal cells (consisting of stem and progenitor cells) have the ability to proliferate, giving rise to cells that then follow a process of differentiation into mature keratinocytes. This capacity to replenish the tissue is maintained by the transcription factors OCT4, SOX2 and KLF4, which are stem cell markers. Activity of these genes is regulated at the epigenetic level by microRNAs. Concretely, microRNA-145 is known to repress the activity of these three stem cell transcription factors, causing basal cells to stop dividing. As a result, the cells leave the basal layer and start the differentiation process, involving changes in the expression of characteristic epidermal markers.
Lipotec was inspired by epigenetics and microRNAs to develop REPROAGE™ peptide, a cosmetic active ingredient that can help skin regeneration properties last longer. The ingredient reduces the levels of the key regulator microRNA-145 and increases the typical factors of basal cells, suggesting the reprograming of cells and a subsequent reactivation of the pool of epidermal progenitors.
The application of the cosmetic ingredient in volunteers was associated with a faster epidermal self-renewal, at a rate equivalent to that of more than a decade younger skin. Also an