Skin ageing is an irreversible process that is caused by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. The possibility of arresting or delaying skin ageing represents a large research area and has a big potential in the cosmetics sector. Recently, the polypeptide lysine-threonine-threonine-lysine-serine (KTTKS) has attracted a lot of attention and it features in numerous up-market cosmetic products where it has become erroneously associated with the term 'pentapeptide'. In this study, we review in detail KTTKS and its major derivatives, in terms of the limited information in the literature and an appraisal of its physicochemical and theoretical skin permeation properties. There appears to be a sound in vitro basis for its action on fibroblasts due to its stimulatory effect on extracellular matrix synthesis, where the stimulatory effect of KTTKS is specific to collagen types I and III and fibronectin expression. However, there is a surprising absence of in vitro skin penetration data in the literature, and there are relatively few clinical studies using these materials.
© 2011 The Authors. ICS © 2011 Society of Cosmetic Scientists and the Société Française de Cosmétologie.