Green biotechnology in cosmetics: using plant cell cultures as sources of active ingredients


Fabio Apone1,2*, Ani Barbulova2, Claudia Zappelli1, Gabriella Colucci1,2
*Corresponding author
1. VitaLab srl, Napoli, Italy
2.  Arterra Bioscience srl, Napoli, Italy


The use of green biotechnology in Cosmetics is becoming not only trendy but also a valid alternative to produce safe, sustainable and effective active ingredients for skin care. Plant cells grown as cultures in either liquid or solid media, known as “plant stem cells”, are undifferentiated cells obtained in the laboratory by biotechnological techniques, and can be easily used as a valuable source of cosmetically active compounds, which can be either purified or used as mixture to exert a specific biological activity on human skin. Thanks to their features, the active ingredients derived from plant stem cells satisfy consumers’ needs and requests, thus in the last years they have been much formulated in various categories of products by cosmetic brands.

The present review aims at reporting some of the most significant studies that have been conducted on plant stem cell cultures used as sources of innovative active ingredients for cosmetic applications, whose data have been already published on peer-reviewed scientific journals or cosmetic magazines.


Biotechnology is the use of living organisms, their parts or compounds that they produce, to make products of important economic value for industry. Alcoholic fermentation in wine production, bread or yogurt making are just few examples of biotechnological use of microorganisms in industrial processes, that have been known since Roman and Greek times. Differently to what it used to be in the ancient times, nowadays Biotechnology is mostly based on Science and on laboratory techniques that have been developed so far thanks to all the discoveries in the fields of Biology and Biochemistry. Science research has certainly been the driving force of Biotechnology, which significantly expanded the number of applications to all the industrial sectors and clarified many cellular and molecular mechanisms at the basis of biological functions. “Green” biotechnology is focused on the use of plants, or plant derivatives, to make high valuable products for the industry, and it is mostly based on in vitro cultivation of entire plants or tissues, as well as plant cloning and propagation. 

Examples of green biotechnological applications include creat ...