Uses and properties of bioactive peptides in skin care


1. Arterra Bioscience SpA, Naples, Italy
2. Vitalab Srl, Naples, Italy


Bioactive peptides are short amino acid chains having relevant physiological roles in living organisms, including humans and plants. In our body peptides exert a wide range of activities modulating very important functions during development in every cell and organ. Similarly, in plants peptides regulate cell growth and differentiation and are involved in the defence response against pathogens, suggesting common conserved mechanisms during evolution. Thanks to their multiple roles, different types of peptides, both natural and synthetic, have drawn particular interest in skin care, as they have been claimed to be effective, safe and well tolerated by the consumers. In this review we aim at providing examples on the use of plant derived bioactive peptides as ingredients in skin care, discussing the current knowledge about their biological functions and highlighting their differences and advantages compared to peptides deriving from chemical synthesis and animal sources.


Peptides are short chains of amino acids, generally ranging from 2 to 20 units, and are defined as “bioactive” when they exert biological activities in living organisms, whose specificity and efficacy level depend on their amino acid sequence and 3D conformation. Many bioactive peptides (BP) have evolved important biological functions by interacting with a large number of macromolecules and biochemical compounds, thus modulating several physiological conditions in cells through the up- or down-regulation of the expression of regulatory genes (1). There are many examples of endogenous BP involved in a wide number of therapeutic activities in human cells, from anti-oxidant to anti-tumoral and anti-inflammatory. The most known example of antioxidant peptide, ubiquitously present in all organisms, is the tripeptide glutathione (γ-QCG), which regulates the cellular redox balance and protects the cells from oxidation damage (2). The Angiotensin hormone peptides have key roles in vasoconstriction by binding the ACE enzyme/receptor in different type of cells (3) and, due to the importance that ACE2 has gained in the ...