What began as a study on preventing damage to blood vessels has led to a surprising discovery regarding the skin’s aging process. Now, researchers from the University of British Columbia believe they might have accidentally stumbled upon the next big thing in anti-aging skin care after observing the smooth, wrinkle-free skin of their mice test subjects.
A team of researchers led by the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation of UBC researcher David Granville originally set out to study how the enzyme Granzyme-B affected blood vessels in mice. Granzyme-B is an enzyme that kills key proteins in blood vessels.
Curious as to how blood vessels would fair in the absence of this enzyme, the team observed a group of mice that had been genetically engineered to lack Granzyme-B. Granville and his team found that the blood vessels in mice without the enzyme better resisted hardening of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack. However, that was not their only discovery.
The mice lacking Granzyme-B also appeared to have much smoother skin than others with the enzyme, as if they had also resisted the effects of aging. In order to take a deeper look into their findings, the team set up another study to test the effect of Granzyme-B on skin cells.
To do so, Granville created a mini tanning bed for his mice that would expose them to UV rays similar to that of the sun. Sun damage has been shown to speed up the signs of aging skin, causing wrinkles and other blemishes.
Granville and his team put the mice in the tanning bed for just a few minutes, three times a week, for a total period of 20 weeks. This amount of exposure was not enough to give the mice a sunburn, but rather slight redness of the skin.
After 20 weeks, Granville discovered that the mice lacking Granzyme-B exhibited far fewer signs of aging than the mice with the enzyme.
Granville’s findings were published in Aging Cell, in which he explains “that Granzyme B is released in the skin when it’s exposed to sunlight. The enzyme then moves through skin cells “like molecular scissors,” cutting up the proteins that act as the scaffolding holding skin cells together. This ultimately leads to wrinkles and skin damage,” according to CTV.
Granville hopes to use this new anti-aging discovery to help people who suffer from lupus, an autoimmune disease that makes skin more sensitive to sunlight, but his findings could also help develop new skincare products that keep skin looking younger longer.