By Dr. Fred Pescatore, MD
We’ve all heard phrases like ‘beauty from within’, but very little is said about the actual mechanisms that drive healthy, hydrated and radiant skin. One of the foremost underlying internal processes directly related to skin health is helping to support normal blood sugar levels, more specifically looking at the process of glycation.*
In short, glycation is the nonenzymatic process of covalently bonding sugar molecules to proteins, lipids, or nucleic acids,1 resulting in molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs).2 AGEs have the potential to accumulate in various tissues including the skin1,2 and have been implicated in many chronic conditions such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s,3 end stage renal disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.1 AGEs can be produced in the body under hyperglycemic conditions or they can be consumed in the diet. They are higher in heat-treated foods, rich in proteins and lipids.1,4 AGEs damage the structure and functionality of proteins, lipids, and nucleic acid and therefore interfere with physiology at the cellular level.*
Glycation changes skin’s structure, morphology, and function and has even been colloquially termed the “sugar sag.” AGEs accumulate in skin and may play a significant role in photoaging.3 This occurs as a result of AGEs stiffening collagen, distorting its structure and function, decreasing elasticity,3 inhibiting crosslinking of fibers, triggering fibroblast cell death,5 and making collagen resistant to turnover and replacement.1 AGEs can increase damaging cytokines as well as the level of oxidation thus leading to potential vascular damage.2,4 Keratinocytes exposed to AGEs express pro-inflammatory mediators, are less mobile, and go into senescence prematurely.1*
So as patients look to revitalize their skin, the obvious approaches that have long been applied, such as collagen products, essential fatty acids, antioxidants etc., are great. But the most cutting edge approach involves supporting the body’s ability to control the formation of AGEs and curb the devastation they can cause.*
- Nguyen HP, Katta R. Sugar Sag: Glycation and the Role of Diet in Aging Skin. Skin Therapy Lett. 2015;20(6):1-5.
- van Waateringe RP, Slagter SN, van Beek AP, et al. Skin autofluorescence, a non-invasive biomarker for advanced glycation end products, is associated with the metabolic syndrome and its individual components. Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2017;9:42.
- Kueper T, Grune T, Prahl S, et al. Vimentin is the specific target in skin glycation. Structural prerequisites, functional consequences, and role in skin aging. J Biol Chem. 2007;282(32):23427-23436.
- Federico G, Gori M, Randazzo E, Vierucci F. Skin advanced glycation end-products evaluation in infants according to the type of feeding and mother’s smoking habits. SAGE Open Med. 2016;4:2050312116682126.
- Shimoda H, Nakamura S, Morioka M, Tanaka J, Matsuda H, Yoshikawa M. Effect of cinnamoyl and flavonol glucosides derived from cherry blossom flowers on the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and AGE-induced fibroblast apoptosis. Phytother Res. 2011;25(9):1328-1335.
*These materials have not been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.