Objective: The need for effective 'anti-ageing' treatments, in particular for the management of photodamaged skin, prompted us to develop a novel method to identify new active ingredients. The model utilized a gene profiling study with corresponding connectivity mapping (Cmap) to identify novel anti-ageing compounds using all-trans retinoic acid (RA) as the lead compound due to its beneficial effect on photodamaged skin and skin firmness.
Method: A vehicle-controlled clinical study including nine healthy Caucasian female volunteers aged 57 ± 7 (mean ± SEM) exhibiting photodamage on their lower outer forearms was conducted. The volunteers applied RA once daily on photodamaged skin for 7 days, and biopsies were subjected to Affymetrix gene arrays. Connectivity mapping (Cmap), examining hundreds of gene expression profiles, was run on the gene signature of RA-treated photodamaged skin to identify small bioactive compounds.
Results: Affymetrix gene array identified 19 genes significantly differentially expressed after application of RA. Corresponding Cmap analysis revealed six natural bioactive compounds including N-acetyl aspartic acid (A-A-A) showing similar activity to RA on the differentially expressed genes identified.
Conclusion: Based on RA mimicking gene array activity, potential use within skincare on molecular size, safety assessment and sourcing, we identified the natural amino acid, A-A-A as a potential candidate to treat ageing skin.
Keywords: acetyl aspartic acid (A-A-A); connectivity mapping (Cmap); gene array; retinoic acid; retinoids.
© 2015 Society of Cosmetic Scientists and the Société Française de Cosmétologie.