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Mitochondrial complex activity and skin ageing


*Corresponding author
Dermatological Sciences, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, United Kingdom


Mitochondria are thought to play a key role in human skin ageing, potentially via the generation of harmful free radicals. These free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS), can cause damage to cellular biological structures and DNA if they overwhelm antioxidant defences. An accumulation of this damage is thought to contribute to the ageing process. Recent evidence has pointed towards a possible role in the ageing process for one of the 5 complexes of the mitochondrial electron transport chain, complex II, which was shown to decrease in activity with increasing age in human skin. It is highly important to attempt to understand the causes and mechanisms of skin ageing, to allow people to maintain skin health for as long as possible.

Skin ageing

The skin is the largest organ of the human body, and it is an extremely important barrier against external insults from the environment, such as infection, toxicity, pollution, and ultraviolet rays (UV) from the sun. Natural skin ageing occurs intrinsically throughout our lifetimes (chronological ageing), and its rate is rapidly increased by overexposure to the sun without skin protection (photoageing). During skin ageing, the skin changes visually as well as in its function, with a decrease in the immune response against infection and wounds, and a breakdown of structure. It is highly important to attempt to understand the ageing processes of natural skin through research to allow maintenance of dermatological health for as long as possible to improve the quality of our lives. Luckily, the skin is an organ which can be easily accessed and studied, with the findings from skin research having relevance and application to ageing in other body tissues. The exact causes of ageing remain unknown, but one of the most promising theories suggests that the cellular energy producers, the mitochondria, are responsible for the ageing process. Mitochondri ...

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