Wrinkles and Age Spots

Time marches on, we all get older, and our skin shows the signs of aging. Some people age beautifully with great looking skin; others slather on creams and odd gunk in a futile battle to chase away wrinkles and age spots. Then there is always the Kenny Rogers-style facelift solution... What is the difference between aging with lots of wrinkles or just a few? Genetics and environmental factors, of course.

What causes skin aging?

Both genetics and environmental factors influence how your skin looks as you age. Environmental factors that influence skin aging include: [ref]
  • Sun exposure (UV, visible light, and infra-red)
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Air pollution
  • Nutrition
  • Cosmetic products
Wrinkles, loss of elasticity, age spots, loss of tone all contribute to your skin looking older.  A lot of this can be blamed on oxidative stress in the skin. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between ROS (reactive oxygen species) and the ability of the cell to counter this with antioxidants. ROS is a byproduct of cellular metabolism (e.g. mitochondria producing energy for the cell) and it is increased by UV radiation. [ref] ROS is also produced during the detoxification of xenobiotics in the endoplasmic reticulum. [ref] Increased oxidative stress causes an increase in matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). These are collagen degraders, which decrease the elasticity of the skin. Too much sun exposure results in the breakdown of collagen and elastin and a slower rate of synthesis of collagen. [ref] Collagen is a protein that forms connective tissue and the extracellular matrix. It is like a structural net or scaffolding that keeps the skin smooth.  Type I collagen is the most abundant in skin, and there is a little type III collagen as well. Sun exposure causes an increase in the expression of MMP1, which causes an increased breakdown of collagen.  [ref]

Genetic variants that cause wrinkles:

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