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Resist the Signs of Aging with Autophagy

Autophagy is the cell’s own protection system which preserves its homeostasis and ensures proper growth and development. It takes the relay from an overloaded ubiquitin-proteasome system when the cells are under duress by degrading and recycling unsolicited material such as altered and insoluble proteins as well as damaged organelles. Ubiquitinylated cargos are carried to the phagophore where it is surrounded by a double-membrane vesicle called the autophagosome. At this stage, ATG proteins are recruited and bind temporarily to the autophagosome membrane before dissociating rapidly with the exception of ATG8 (a specific marker of autophagy found in the literature under the name of LC3-II) which remains bound till the end of the process. Further down the conveyor belt, autophagosomes fuse with lysosomes to form autophagolysosomes. Sequestered content is then degraded by lysosomal hydrolases. Malfunction of autophagy contributes to a variety of diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disorder and microbe infection. Efficient sequestration and clearance of unneeded or damaged cellular components are crucial for cell survival, longevity and function. Autophagy is, therefore, a very interesting target not only for pharmaceutical companies but also for the personal care industry as the identification of novel, active and natural compounds capable of positively influencing this pathway could prove beneficial to cosmetic users.


Dr. Guzman and colleagues from Silab in Brive (France) demonstrated that autophagy considerably improved detoxification and longevity of skin cells both in vitro and in vivo. After several years of research, they managed to identify and isolate a natural active from Candida saitoana referred to as Celldetox®. Using LC3-II protein labeling, they found that the expression of LC3-II was increased in keratinocytes treated with the yeast extract and that this increase in expression correlated with the increased number of lysosomes in the cytoplasm of these cells. With age, the autophagy process can be disturbed and fail in clearing damaged material. The latter accumulate and aggregate along with peroxidized lipids and broken organelles to produce a non-degradable and auto-fluorescent material termed lipofuscin. Scientists at Silab observed that as the concentration of yeast extract increased, there was a significant decrease in the accumulation of lipofuscin in fibroblasts stressed with hydrogen peroxide. Carbonylated proteins are a consequence of severe oxidation that can be promoted by reactive oxygen species. It is an irreversible damage found in ageing. In comparison with a placebo, the amount of carbonylated proteins was significantly reduced by 13.9% in 82% of volunteers treated twice-daily with an emulsion of the yeast extract. They also noticed that when treated for 28 days, the skin surface was smoother and the wrinkles less apparent in about 80% of volunteers. Altogether, these data suggest that Celldetox® can be hugely beneficial to weakened skin and should be considered in all regenerating, detoxifying and ageing skin care products.

Enzo Life Sciences offers comprehensive tools for advancing your research in personal care and for analyzing and quantifying the autophagy process small compounds, antibodies and ELISA kits. We also propose several fluorescent probes such as our Cyto-ID Autophagy detection kit, a highly cited green fluorescent dye capable of staining and quantifying autophagosomes and autophagolysosomes in a rapid and specific manner. Some of these products are described below:

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