Scientists discover that a protein essential for elastin formation declines with age and UV exposure

By Julia Wray 10-Sep-2020

Kao says elasticity is low in human skin with reduced levels of the MFAP-4 protein

Researchers have proven that skin elasticity is lower when the expression of microfibrillar-associated protein 4 (MFAP-4) is reduced.

The Biological Science Research Laboratory of Kao Corporation further confirmed that the amount of MFAP-4 in skin decreases with age and sun exposure.

Elastin is a dermal protein complex consisting of elastin molecules in a stacked formation; it has a rubber like construction and plays an important role in maintaining cutaneous elasticity.

Previous Kao research (in 2011) showed MFAP-4 to be essential for the formation of elastin. Those findings clarified that elastin formation is enhanced when the amount of MFAP-4 is high in cutaneous fibroblasts (which produce elastin), whereas that formation is inhibited when the amount is reduced.

In the present study, the relationship between MFAP-4 expression and elasticity, as well as the effects of ageing and UV radiation on MFAP-4 were quantitatively examined in human skin.

The amount of MFAP-4 was found to be markedly lower in UV-unexposed areas of women in their 60s as compared with women in their 20s and 30s, associating this decrease with ageing.

Moreover, comparison of MFAP-4 amounts between UV-exposed and unexposed areas of women in their 60s revealed lower levels in exposed areas, confirming that MFAP-4 in human skin is reduced by chronic UV exposure.

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Kao says it will continue to pursue research of elastin, with the aim of proposing technology for realising “beautiful and healthy skin”.