Two fresh molecules are discovered that produce small amounts of hydrogen sulfide gas, which prevents the skin from aging after exposure to the sun
Sunburn is one of the major reasons for early aging of the skin, as well as a risk factor for melanoma (skin cancer), as well as other skin problems associated with aging. Now, an international research team at the University of Exeter Medical School, and Professor Uraiwan Panich at the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, in Thailand has stepped with new approach to reverse or delay the damage for the first time. In a study published in August of 2020 entitled Antioxidant and Redox Signaling, the scientists exposed adult skin cells and rat skin to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UVA is a component of natural sunlight that damages the skin and can penetrate windows and some clothing. It causes premature skin aging by opening up digestive enzymes called collagenases. These enzymes consume non-chemical collagens, causing the skin to reduce its elasticity, leading to wrinkles. UVA can also penetrate deeper into the skin cells than UV radiation (UVB), and it damages cellular level DNA, resulting in genetic mutations that can cause various types of skin cancers.
Hence, the researchers paved the way to protect deeper layers of skin using two genes developed at the University of Exeter namely, AP39 and AP123. This in turn prevents the activity of enzymes that damage the skin and subsequent skin damage. AP39 and AP123 genes target specific energy-producing mechanisms within the cells, the mitochondria, and provide them with a small amount of another different fuel, hydrogen sulfide, which will be used when UVA skin cells are suppressed. The result of the research was the activation of two major protective mechanisms. One is a protein call PGC-1α, which controls mitochondrial mechanisms inside cells and regulates energy balance. Another is Nrf2, which converts a set of protective genes that mitigate and reduces UVA damage to the skin and turns off the production of collagenase that causes the skin to look significantly more aged.