Antiwrinkle compound causes pathological reaction in skin cells

Apr 11, 2007

Researchers from Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine have discovered that a compound commonly used in many antiwrinkle products causes a pathological reaction in skin cells. Guillaume Morissette, Lucie Germain, and François Marceau present their conclusions about the mode of action of this substance—called DMAE—in the latest edition of the British Journal of Dermatology.

DMAE (2-dimethylaminoethanol) is used in many antiwrinkle products dubbed "instant anti-aging face-lifts." This compound, as well as other chemically similar ones, are also found in cosmetics, creams, lipsticks, shampoos, soaps, and baby lotions, although the way they work is not yet understood.

In vitro tests conducted by Dr. Marceau’s team revealed that the application of DMAE induces a quick and spectacular swelling of skin cell vacuoles called fibroblasts, which act as reservoirs and interface between the inside and the outside of the cell.

In the hours following the application of DMAE, the researchers observed an important slowing down of cell division—sometimes coming to a complete stop, the inhibition of certain metabolic reactions, and the death of a significant percentage of fibroblasts. The mortality rate of fibroblasts, which varied according to DMAE concentration, was above 25% after 24 hours in the case of a concentration similar to the one resulting from normal use of an antiwrinkle cream. The thickening of the skin induced by the pathological swelling of the fibroblasts would explain the antiwrinkle effect of DMAE, according to the researchers.

"Even though DMAE is similar to medication, there is very little scientific documentation about its pharmacological and toxicological effects," explains Dr. Marceau, who stresses his goal is not to condemn the use of this compound. "We’re not saying DMAE is dangerous to people exposed to it, but our results indicate it’s time to begin serious research to determine whether or not it poses a health risk."

DMAE is not a unique case in the world of beauty products, continues the researcher. "Several compounds found in cosmetics are just as complex as medication—they are absorbed through the skin, flow through the bloodstream, are expelled by the kidneys, or stocked in cells or even in the liver. Yet, the laws regulating their use are far less restrictive than those regulating drugs," concludes Dr. Marceau.

Source: Université Laval

Explore further: Brazil finds coffee protein with morphine effect

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Obama recommends extended wilderness zone in Alaska

5 hours ago

US President Barack Obama said Sunday he would recommend a large swath of Alaska be designated as wilderness, the highest level of federal protection, in a move likely to anger oil proponents.

NASA craft set to beam home close-ups of Pluto

5 hours ago

Nine years after leaving Earth, the New Horizons spacecraft is at last drawing close to Pluto and on Sunday was expected to start shooting photographs of the dwarf planet.

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys

7 hours ago

The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales and other creatures ...

Uganda seizes massive ivory and pangolin haul

7 hours ago

Ugandan wildlife officers have seized a huge haul of elephant ivory and pangolin scales, representing the deaths of hundreds of endangered animals, police said Sunday.

Recommended for you

Brazil finds coffee protein with morphine effect

15 hours ago

Brazilian scientists have discovered a protein in coffee that has effects similar to pain reliever morphine, researchers at the state University of Brasilia (UnB) and state-owned Brazilian Agricultural Research ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.