Share on PinterestNew research finds that the skin’s microbiome and its bacterial pathways are involved in the skin aging process. fzant/Getty Images
- A recent study published in the journal PLOS One has identified bacterial pathways associated with skin aging.
- The data demonstrated that the main bacterial pathways related to aging involve the production of skin pigment, fatty acids, and ceramides.
- Better understanding the molecular processes that drive skin aging and their relationship with the microbiome will require further research.
- Data from prospective studies may help develop effective treatments to combat skin aging.
Bacteria, fungi, and viruses live on the skin and in the gut. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and it serves as a protective barrier from the outside environment.
Commensal microbial communities on the skin, also known as the skin microbiome, do not cause disease and benefit the body. They may be fixed or exist temporarily on the skin.
The skin microbiome interacts with the body’s immune system and may affect its functioning. And the immune system regulates the makeup of the skin microbiome.
Aging causes changes to the skin’s structure and function. This may result from “intrinsic” factors, such as hormonal, metabolic, or immune system changes. “Extrinsic” factors, such as smoking and exposure to sunlight and certain temperatures, may also trigger immune processes that affect the skin’s structure and rejuvenation.
Increased wrinkles, decreased elasticity, reduced wound healing, and impaired barrier function are skin changes that occur during aging.
Changes in the skin microbiome can also stem from a decline in the production of sebum, which is an oily substance that protects the skin, as well as from decreased water content in the skin and immune dysfunction.
Advanced scientific methods called 16S ribosomal RNA gene and metagenomic sequencing techniques are now available to assess changes in the skin’s microbes caused by aging.
Dr. Elizabeth Grice, an associate professor of dermatology and microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania, explained in a 2019 lecture that the 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing technique allows us to “answer the questions [about] the composition of a sample or the diversity of a sample.”
She went on to say that “Shotgun metagenomics provides a more nuanced view of the skin microbiome. Using these methods, one can take a sample containing the genomic DNA, […] break up that DNA in the sample, and then sequence those fragments. This allows one to identify microbes to the species and strain …….