In a new study, researchers found a new way that can rejuvenate skin and regenerate hair follicles.
They found a common molecular pathway shared by laser treatments and the drug retinoic acid.
This pathway lets skin cells sense loose RNA molecules and can also help regenerate hair follicles.
The new finding may harness a new generation of treatments for aging skin and hair loss.
The research was conducted by a team from Johns Hopkins University.
Many people want to smooth out wrinkles, erase scars and sunspots, and look years younger.
They turn to lasers and prescription drugs to rejuvenate their skin, but exactly how rejuvenation works has never been fully explained.
In the study, the team examined if loose pieces of RNA called dsRNA played a role in skin rejuvenation treatments.
They collected biopsies from 17 patients being treated at The Johns Hopkins Hospital with conventional laser skin rejuvenation that effectively erases sunspots and wrinkles.
All patients were Caucasian women with an average age of 55, and treatments were performed on their faces and arms.
Skin biopsies were collected before the laser treatment and one week after the procedure.
The team analyzed the expression levels of genes in each sample and discovered that genes involved in dsRNA, as well as genes involved in producing the skin’s natural retinoic acid, were at higher levels after the laser treatment.
Next, the researchers treated isolated human skin cells with loose dsRNA to mimic the effect of laser treatment.
The amount of retinoic acid inside the cells increased by more than tenfold. Commercially produced retinoic acid is already used to treat acne, wrinkles, and sunspots.
The findings explain why laser rejuvenation and retinoic acid have both been successful treatments for premature aging of the skin from sun damage and other forms of exposure.
They could lead to novel methods to reduce wrinkles and sunspots by combining retinoic acid and laser treatments in new ways.
They may also lead to ways to regenerate hair follicles and treat hair loss.
The lead author of the study is Luis Garza, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The study is published in Nature Communications.
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