New research funded by Nu Skin Enterprises on internal causes of aging has identified a previously unknown source of superoxide free radicals. Free radicals from external triggers, such as sun exposure and cigarette smoke, have long been known to damage skin cells and components of the skin’s extracellular matrix, including collagen and elastin.
Scientists from Nu Skin Enterprises and Purdue University report their novel research findings on age-related NADH oxidase (arNOX) this week in Kyoto, Japan, at International Investigative Dermatology 2008 (IID2008), a scientific venue for the latest information on skin biology. The scientists present compelling evidence that arNOX, an enzyme associated with cell membranes, is present and active on skin cells. Significantly, arNOX activity increases during the “aging” years of about 45-70.
“Identifying skin-associated arNOX and its increasing activity with age is a breakthrough discovery in understanding skin aging,” said Zoe Diana Draelos, MD, primary investigator with Dermatology Consulting Services, member of the Nu Skin Scientific Advisory Board and one of the study authors. “Currently, most dermatological research focuses on correcting skin damage after it occurs. Identifying an internal source of free radicals in skin, and advancing an understanding of how and why they are generated, adds to our ability to address fundamental mechanisms that may combine with external sources to lead to accelerated skin aging. ”
“Evidence of arNOX in the skin provides further insights into potentially revolutionary therapies for skin care, particularly because its activity correlates with the ages when people begin to see their skin lose its elasticity and firmness, and notice more discoloration and lines and wrinkles,” remarked Helen Knaggs, PhD, vice president of Nu Skin global research and development. “If we can develop innovative ways to inhibit arNOX activity and prevent the production of free radicals in the first place, then we can address both sides of the equation – correcting free radical damage from external sources, while at the same time preventing free radical production from internal sources.”
Authors of the study are Dale Kern, senior scientist for Nu Skin Enterprises; Dr. Draelos; Dorothy Morré, PhD, professor of foods and nutrition, Purdue University; and D. James Morré, PhD, Dow distinguished professor of medicinal chemistry, Purdue University. Nu Skin has funded ENOX research by the Morrés since 1999.
The arNOX enzyme is one in a class of newly-identified ECTO-NOX (external NADH oxidase or ENOX) proteins that are located on external cell membranes. ECTO-NOX proteins become increasingly active to generate additional metabolic energy as cell mitochondria age and produce less energy. arNOX has been identified in all cells tested, including serum and saliva and now the dermis and epidermis. Its unique property is that it generates superoxide at the cell surface that is capable of damaging adjacent cells, lipoproteins, and other structural components of the skin’s extracellular matrix, such as collagen and elastin. Other NOX categories include tumor-NOX, viral-NOX and constitutive, or normal, NOX.