Antiaging skin care: Reversing skin aging by gene blockade

November 29, 2007

In the December 15th cover story of G&D, a research team led by Dr. Howard Chang (Stanford University School of Medicine) reports that the blockage of a single gene, called NF-êB, can reverse aging in the mammalian skin. This finding sets the stage for the development of future genetic age-intervention therapies.

Their paper will be published online ahead of print at

"Here we show that aging in mouse skin can be reversed by blocking a single gene... These findings suggest that aging is not just a result of wear and tear, but is also the consequence of a continually active genetic program that might be blocked for improving human health," states Dr. Chang.

Using large-scale genomic microarray screens, Dr. Chang and colleagues identified NF-êB as a master regulator of aging-associated gene expression programs in humans and mice - effectively demonstrating that an increase in NF-êB target gene expression is a common theme of aging in mammals.

The researchers then used a transgenic mouse model to test the effect of specifically inhibiting NF-êB in the basal layer of the mouse epidermis. Their results showed a striking outcome: After two weeks of NF-êB inhibition, both the global gene expression profile and the tissue characteristics of the aged skin reverted to that of a young animal.

Thus, while NF-êB activity normally increases as mammals age, the targeted blockage of NF-êB in the skin effectively rejuvenates the tissue. "The finding that aged skin can be "rejuvenated" by a genetic intervention late in life implies that the aging program is plastic, and therefore can be potentially manipulated to decrease the deleterious effects of aging," explains Dr. Chang

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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