Introduction and objectives: In recent years there has been an increasing interest in the use of nutritional supplements to benefit human skin. Molecular evidence substantiating such effects, however, is scarce. In the present study we investigated whether nutritional supplementation of women with the standardized pine bark extract Pycnogenol® will improve their cosmetic appearance and relate these effects to expression of corresponding molecular markers of their skin.
Materials and methods: For this purpose 20 healthy postmenopausal women were supplemented with Pycnogenol for 12 weeks. Before, during and after supplementation, their skin condition was assessed (i) by employing non-invasive, biophysical methods including corneometry, cutometry, visioscan and ultrasound analyses and (ii) by taking biopsies and subsequent PCR for gene expression analyses related to extracellular matrix homeostasis.
Results: Pycnogenol supplementation was well tolerated in all volunteers. Pycnogenol significantly improved hydration and elasticity of skin. These effects were most pronounced in women presenting with dry skin conditions prior to the start of supplementation. The skin-physiological improvement was accompanied by a significant increase in the mRNA expression of hyaluronic acid synthase-1 (HAS-1), an enzyme critically involved in the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, and a noticeable increase in gene expression involved in collagen de novo synthesis.
Conclusions: This study provides skin-physiological and for the first time molecular evidence that Pycnogenol supplementation benefits human skin by increasing skin hydration and skin elasticity. These effects are most likely due to an increased synthesis of extracellular matrix molecules such as hyaluronic acid and possibly collagen. Pycnogenol supplementation may thus be useful to counteract the clinical signs of skin aging.
Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.