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Discovery of a new mechanism for nasty blotches! Another step closer to beautiful skin?

IFSCC Conference 2013, Rio de Janeiro Conference Award (Poster Award)

The Role of Heparan Sulfate at the Dermal-Epidermal Junction in Hyperpigmentation


What’s new?

Epidermis which is the surface layer of the skin was not the only factor contributing to pigmentation! The state of the basement membrane connecting the epidermis and dermis had an impact on pigmentation as well!

Exposure to ultraviolet light causes the melanocytes, which are cells in the deep part of the epidermis, to generate melanin to protect the skin. This is the origin of pigmentation. If the skin is healthy, the melanin will be discharged from the skin by repeated turnover. However, if for some reason these melanocytes get out of control, they continue generating melanin even without exposure to ultraviolet light, leading to pigmentation. All of these processes happen in the epidermis, the surface layer of the skin. This research discovered that a certain state of basement membrane, which is located between the epidermis and a deeper layer of the skin dermis, contributes to the stimulation of melanocytes.

Area with pigmentation

Basement membrane acts as a sheet that divides the epidermis and dermis, which have different structures. Comparison of the basement membrane between the skin with and without pigmentation revealed that pigmented skin has an extremely low amount of heparan sulfate.

Area without pigmentation Area with pigmentation

Heparan sulfate in the basement membrane is responsible for maintaining healthy skin by controlling the interaction between the epidermis and dermis. With a low amount of heparan sulfate, the basement membrane does not function properly and is exposed to the impact of the dermis below. Heparan sulfate is easily decomposed by the enzyme heparanase, so we looked for components that would suppress its activity and contribute to the high production of heparan sulfate, and found that Madonna lily root extract and glucosamine are effective for this purpose.

Skin with normal function of heparan sulfate

What’s the improvement?

Discovery of the new pigmentation mechanism leads to brighter and more beautiful skin for women!

Unfortunately, we have not discovered all of the mechanisms causing pigmentation. Yet the findings are a significant step forward in measures against pigmentation, which may lead to brighter and more beautiful skin for women.