US study 'discovers microbiome links to skin ageing’

A study by researchers at the Centre for Microbiome Innovation (CMI) at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) and L'Oréal Research and Innovation has revealed how the skin microbiome could be associated with wrinkles and skin health.

The findings published this month in Frontiers in Aging detail what is claimed to be the first study to isolate microbes associated specifically with signs of skin ageing and skin health, rather than chronological age.

Two notable trends emerged from the paper entitled A multi-study analysis enables identification of potential microbial features associated with skin aging signs.

Firstly, it found a positive association between skin microbiome diversity and lateral cantonal lines (crow’s feet wrinkles), which are generally viewed as one of the key signs of skin ageing.

Secondly, a negative correlation was observed between microbiome diversity and transepidermal water loss, which is the amount of moisture that evaporates through the skin.

Combining CMI's data analysis expertise with L'Oréal's knowledge in skin health assessment, the study examined data collected during 13 studies that L’Oréal had carried out in the past, consisting of 16S rRNA amplicon sequence data and corresponding skin clinical data for over 650 female participants, aged 18-70.

While each of the studies included in the analysis had focused on one particular area of interest—for example, crow’s feet wrinkles or moisture loss—this multi-study analysis collated the data to search for trends related to specific microbes while accounting for other variables, such as age.

“Our skin changes physiologically with age; for example, we gain wrinkles and our skin gets drier. But there is variation in what this looks like in people - you've probably noticed that there are some people who have younger or older looking skin than many others their age,” said corresponding author Se Jin Song, CMI Director of Research.

“Using advanced statistical methods, we were able to tease apart the microbes that are associated with these types of ageing signs for skin, like crow's feet wrinkles, from those that are associated with simply age as a chronological number.”

Future paths of investigation the team has suggested include metabolomics work to discover chemical biomarkers related to skin ageing, as well as meta-transcriptomics research into potential targets for genetic engineering.

Research into other layers of the skin has also been considered, as many studies focus on the outer skin due to the ease of sample collection.

“By confirming a link between the microbiome and skin health, we've laid the groundwork for further studies that discover specific microbiome biomarkers related to skin ageing, and, one day, show how to modify them to generate novel and highly targeted recommendations for skin health,” said co-author Rob Knight, CMI Faculty Director and Professor of Pediatrics, Bioengineering, Computer Science & Engineering and Data Science at UC San Diego.

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