Ann Arbor, Mich. — It may be possible to slow down the skin’s aging process by boosting support of the dermal extracellular matrix, a new study finds.
As the skin ages, the extracellular matrix, which acts as a scaffold for skin cells, becomes fragmented, according to researchers with University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor. Fibroblasts shrink and less collagen is produced causing the support structure to decline, Newswise.com reports.
The researchers found that injecting the space between the skin cells with a filler enhances the structural support of the extracellular matrix.
Investigators injected a dermal filler into the facial skin of 21 volunteers over age 70 during a three month period. Data indicated that the filler stimulated fibroblasts to begin producing more collagen and boosted the support structure of the extracellular matrix. This increased support, the researchers noted, appeared to further stimulate the proliferation of fibroblasts and increase epidermal thickness, according to the abstract. The entire layer of skin grew thicker with more blood vessels, which nourished the cells, according to Newswise.com.
“By altering the matrix using an external filler and increasing the internal pressure, we’ve shown that we can essentially trigger a signal for cells to wake up,” a researcher said. “This shows that skin cells in elderly people have the capacity to respond robustly in a very positive way to alterations in the mechanical property of their environment. We still need to know more about how cells sense their environment, but in general it appears we have made a real difference in the structural integrity of skin.”
The findings were published in the October issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.