On September 20th, I was invited to speak about the molecular mechanisms of aging at tthe HAPPI Anti-Aging Conference. I love basic science and enjoyed preparing for this summit very much. Plus, I thought it was pretty neat sharing the stage with the founder of Clarisonic, Robb Akridge, a really down-to-earth science geek like myself.
Some of the highlights from my talk:
1) Skin aging reflects global aging, and skin aging the same way other organs do. Because skin is so visible these aging changes are readily apparent, sadly.
2) Skin aging can be broken down into 2 categories: intrinsic aging and extrinsic aging. Intrinsic aging is a function of the passage of time; also known as chronological aging. Extrinsic aging is the result of environment and lifestyle, and includes sun exposure, smoking, pollution, etc.
3) Skin aging is more than just wrinkles. It is thin, dehydrated, prone to bruising, and does not heal normally.
4) On a molecular level there are several theories of aging that all work in tandem:
- genetic mutations
- telomere shortening
- mitochondrial DNA mutations
- free radicals
5) All of the above lead to Cellular Senescence. Senescent cells are cells that no longer replicate. When skin cells become senescent they stop replicating, hence skin ages. A common misconception is that senescent cells are resting, and not active. To the contrary, I discussed the “Senescence Associated Secretory Phenotype” which is a mixture of pro-inflammatory molecules that these “resting” cells are very busy making. All these cytokines lead to chronic inflammation, which has harmful effects.
6) Diabetics have accelerated skin aging. Under the microscope their collagen bundles are all disorganized! This may be due to the high amount of Advanced Glycation End Products. AGEs are the result of glucose bonding to other molecules such as proteins. AGEs are destructive to cells. They can cause mutations, block normal functions, and lead to wrinkling and discoloration. Maintaining normal blood sugar levels, and avoiding diabetes, is a major anti-aging action!
7) Don’t underestimate the importance of FACIAL FAT in looking youthful. If you don’t have enough fat, for example, you are malnourished or have a low BMI, you are at risk for a thin face, which = an older looking face.