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Anti-Wrinkle Compound Causes Pathological Reaction In Skin Cells
(press release from Universite Laval's Faculty of Medicine)
Researchers from Universite 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
"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.
Contact: Jean-François Huppe
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