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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine April 2004
A Partial Reversal of Skin Aging
A new delivery system overcomes a long-standing obstacle to effective skin care

How Hydroderm® Works
Collagen fibers primarily exist in dense bundles, but the density and horizontal orientation of these bundles decline as you get older.8 Collagen forms part of the extracellular (outside the cell) matrix, which maintains the integration of cells in the skin tissue. Along with elastin and proteoglycan, and various structural glycoproteins, collagen directly influences the behavior of the skin’s cells.9 This is why it is so important to ensure an optimal supply of collagen throughout your life.

To understand how the Hydroderm® liquid works, you need a bit of background on the structure of the skin and how it ages. While people sometimes think of the skin as an inert layer, it is actually the largest organ of the human body. The skin is in a constant state of change. In fact, the cells of the top layer, known as the epidermis, are completely replaced an average of once every two weeks.

The epidermis consists of three layers, with the very top layer in direct contact with the environment. This layer has a very low permeability that only small molecules can pass through, which is why most collagen creams are unable to penetrate it. While topical collagen creams help moisturize and reduce dryness and scaling, they do nothing to alter the basic supporting structure beneath the skin.

Beneath the upper layer of the epidermis are two more layers that are critical for the skin’s structural integrity and contain substantial amounts of collagen. The Hydroderm® delivery system enables topically applied collagen to penetrate the upper layer of the epidermis and nourish the underlying structures of the skin.

Many Factors Involved in Skin Aging
In the last 50 years, tremendous progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms and mediators involved in the slow but steady deterioration of the skin.10 We now know that the anatomical changes in aging skin result in altered function and susceptibility to disease.11 There are alterations in immune surveillance and a reduction in the skin’s vascular supply. Impairments of thermal regulation, tactile sensitivity, and pain perception also occur as one ages. At the same time, the dermal-epidermal junction becomes flatter, giving the appearance of atrophy.12 This occurs due to a reduction in the dermal cell population as well as changes in the quantity and characteristics of the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin.13,14

While many factors are involved in the aging of skin, most are associated with one major mechanism: the synthesis of intercellular (between the cells) adhesion molecules under the top layer of the skin.15 These aging factors directly or indirectly induce a micro-inflammatory cycle, leading to the secretion of collagenase, an enzyme that eats away at collagen, as well as reactive oxygen species (free radicals). The end result is that the matrix supporting the skin is slowly destroyed, producing a variety of visible and invisible changes to the skin layer.

While people often focus on ultraviolet radiation and cigarette smoking as causes of skin aging, it also occurs naturally due to the body’s metabolic requirements and the passage of time. For example, nearly all of your body’s cells use glucose (blood sugar) for fuel. Sometimes, however, glucose binds to proteins in a reaction known as glycation. This process results in the formation of advanced glycation end-products that can cross-link the proteins they bind with—including collagen. Studies have shown that glycation impairs the assembly of collagen macromolecules.16 Glycation end-products also keep type IV collagen molecules from forming a normal network-like structure.17 Since type IV collagen is responsible for the mechanical stability of the skin’s scaffolding known as the basement membrane, glycation accounts for a significant amount of skin deterioration. Just as you have to eat to live, you can take steps to replenish the collagen that is destroyed by this regrettable, albeit natural, process.

Skin aging also appears to have a hormonal component. A Spanish study of women aged 35 to 60 found a dramatic decline in type IV collagen in the basement membrane, which decreases the strength of this important foundation for the skin.18 This decline in collagen levels can be partially reversed when women take supplemental estrogen. Therefore, the natural reduction in estrogen levels that occurs with age is partially responsible for the observed changes to skin, at least in women.19 The health risks associated with estrogen drugs have caused many health-conscious women to stop using them. Fortunately, there are some natural alternatives such as DHEA, which has demonstrated anti-aging effects when consumed orally or applied topically.20,21

Physical stress taxes the skin as well. The force of gravity exerts a continuous stress on the extracellular (outside the cell) matrix, which triggers the production of the superoxide radical by the mitochondria of the affected cells. This results in free-radical damage and other biological events that lead to the inflammatory response mentioned earlier, resulting in collagen degradation. Other factors contributing to skin aging include psychological stress and limits on cell division known as cell senescence.22

Of course, sun exposure plays a role in the reduction in collagen levels over the years. The absorption of ultraviolet radiation type A (UV-A) generates reactive oxygen species that oxidize the proteins, lipids, and DNA in the skin, damaging their cellular structure and reducing their antioxidant capacity.23 Meanwhile, UV-B absorption by DNA causes the cross-linking of the adjacent proteins, wreaking havoc. The end result is an increase in a destructive enzyme known as matrix metalloproteinase and a reduction in type I procollagen, the precursor molecule to collagen. The rise in matrix metalloproteinase activity also degrades the dermal connective tissue, resulting in a fourfold increase in partially degraded collagen. The combination of these factors produces long-lasting damage to the skin. While these changes occur to some extent in sun-protected skin due to the effects of naturally generated free radicals, they dramatically increase in severity when the skin is exposed to UV radiation. So for your skin’s health, be sure to use sunscreen liberally. UV rays do a lot more than cause skin cancer.

A Multipronged Attack on Skin Aging
For decades, women have gone to dermatologists to have collagen injected under their skin. The immediate effect is the removal of fine lines and wrinkles and a temporary restoration of a more youthful appearance to the skin.

Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that provides support and flexibility to the skin. It forms a mesh-like structure that supports new cells as they grow. Collagen levels diminish with age, resulting in skin sagging, loosening, and losing resiliency. When collagen is injected into the skin, it increases the supportive layer under the skin so that scars, lines, and winkles can be filled in. As a result, skin looks younger and smoother.

Cosmetics companies have taken advantage of the known benefits of collagen injections to claim that their collagen creams produce similar anti-aging effects. Regrettably, collagen molecules are too large to efficiently pass through the upper layer of the skin, so collagen creams provide little benefit.

For the first time, a patent-pending delivery system has been developed that enables very large molecules (such as collagen) to pass through the upper layer of skin. When this new transdermal system is combined with collagen, the collagen molecules are delivered directly to the third layer of the epidermis—an effect achieved previously only by injection.

Collagen replacement is one important component of an anti-aging skin program. The good news is that scientists have published findings indicating that people may have more control over the rate at which their skin ages than over any other organ of the body.

To slow skin aging and partially reverse it, an individual must take a comprehensive approach to gaining control over all the factors that have been identified in the skin degeneration process. Life Extension members have taken advantage of this wealth of knowledge by using the multi-ingredient Rejuvenex® and/or Dream Cream® face creams. Both of these formulas contain stabilized forms of vitamin C, which has been shown in published studies to facilitate the natural synthesis of collagen beneath the skin and induce anti-aging effects.

With the availability of Hydroderm® liquid drops, far more collagen can now be restored beneath aging skin. For optimal results, we suggest applying Hydroderm® liquid drops immediately after the face is cleansed while the pores are open for maximum assimilation of the collagen into the lower layers of the skin. Wait 15 minutes for the Hydroderm® to dry, and then apply Rejuvenex® or Dream Cream® to provide your skin with a complete armamentarium of age-defying nutrients.

Taking Control of Your Appearance
For many years, a debate raged in the dermatological community as to whether topically applied anti-aging preparations really slowed or reversed skin aging. The scientific literature now indicates that the daily application of a variety of agents can have a profound effect on both the health and appearance of the skin.

While the concept of controlling cellular aging remains controversial, no one disagrees that individuals can significantly influence the rate at which their skin ages. For instance, if a person wants to accelerate skin degradation, all they have to do is expose themselves to lots of ultraviolet radiation, cigarette smoke, and ethanol. Even second-hand cigarette smoke prematurely ages the skin.

Hydroderm® liquid drops have become an incredible success story. Word-of-mouth advertising has resulted in an enormous number of jars being shipped monthly to regular users. Based on our review of the scientific reports and the results of our own clinical study, Hydroderm® has demonstrated efficacy in reversing the signs of certain aspects of skin aging, primarily in people over the age of 40.

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