A molecule isolated from a rare cyanobacteria discovered in Japan has been found to have UV absorption, antioxidant, and anti-aging effects.
Cyanobacteria, often referred to as cyanobacteria, are among the oldest known organisms on Earth, with fossil records showing they existed on Earth as far back as 3.5 billion years ago. They are now found in extreme environments such as deserts, highlands, and salt lakes. , and hot springs.
Beyond their adaptability, cyanobacteria are valuable microorganisms for a variety of biotechnological applications, and are the subject of active research and development in the fields of energy, environment, nutrition, medicine, and even cosmetics.
In particular, for cosmetics development, cyanobacteria produce molecules that absorb ultraviolet (UV) light, which could potentially be applied in sunscreens. This is why Professor Hakuto Kageyama of the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Meijo University, Japan, and his research team decided to study a special cyanobacteria found in Japan. open sacrumor A. sacrum In short, it is the search for new ultraviolet absorbing molecules.
of team found that A. sacrum It produces two compounds known as sacripin A and sacripin B. In addition to absorbing UV radiation, these compounds have potential antioxidant and “anti-aging” properties, making them desirable for further study in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
“This blue-green algae is special to Japan,” says Kageyama. “A. sacrum It is only confirmed to grow naturally in parts of the Kyushu region, and its habitat has become narrower year by year, with the only natural habitat being the Koganegawa River in Asakura City, Fukuoka Prefecture.
“A. sacrum It has long been distributed as a luxury food ingredient in the Kyushu region, but it is now on the verge of extinction. If academic and industrial value is found in this cyanobacterial strain, we hope that conservation efforts will become even more active. ”
UV protection and anti-aging effect
Initially, Kageyama’s team was generally looking for ultraviolet-absorbing compounds commonly found in many strains of cyanobacteria known as mycosporin-like amino acids. “We have been researching mycosporin-like amino acids for many years,” he said. “These substances can be expected to be used as natural cosmetic raw materials such as sunscreens.”
“The reason we chose A. sacrum “We chose this strain as the subject of our research because it was not yet known whether this strain produces UV-absorbing substances such as mycosporin-like amino acids,” he added.
However, to their surprise, when they analyzed the chemical structure of the purified ultraviolet-absorbing molecules, they found that A. sacrumthey discovered that they were completely different structures, which the team identified as two molecules, sacripin A and B.
Because other UV-absorbing molecules found in cyanobacteria, mycosporin-like amino acids, also have antioxidant and anti-aging properties, the scientists were interested in whether saclipin had similar activity.
To test its antioxidant properties, they measured its ability to “consume” free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells, and antioxidants can help neutralize or counteract their harmful effects. These can be produced naturally by the body’s metabolic processes, or by external sources such as pollution, UV rays, and smoking.
Each sacripin is added to a colored solution containing free radicals and changes color as the free radicals are consumed. By measuring this change over time, scientists can determine the radical scavenging activity of a particular compound.
They found that sacripin B was more active than sacripin A, and both were slower acting compared to the commonly used antioxidants ascorbic acid and Trolox.
To determine sacripin’s anti-aging abilities, Kageyama’s team investigated sacripin’s ability to slow a process called glycation. Glycation occurs when sugars attach to skin proteins (such as collagen and elastin), making the skin harder and less flexible, contributing to skin aging. Signs of aging.
After laboratory tests, the research team found that sacripin A inhibits glycation in a manner comparable to aminoguanidine, a well-known glycation inhibitor, and that sacripin B’s activity is slightly weaker but still significant. I confirmed that there is. The results revealed that sacripin shows potential as a starting point for future anti-aging compounds.
The future of cosmetics
“We envision using sacripin as a daily sunscreen formulation with anti-aging effects,” Kageyama said. “Compared to powerful antioxidants that only act temporarily, sacripin is less active but long-lasting, consistently inhibiting skin aging.”
Biocompatibility testing also demonstrated initial safety, and the research team believes that because they are insoluble in water, they are highly effective and widely used in the beauty industry to help beneficial chemicals penetrate the skin barrier. We have shown that it is possible to form emulsions.
“Because fat-soluble substances easily penetrate the skin surface, it may be possible to create cosmetics with a different composition from water-soluble UV-absorbing substances such as MAA,” says Kageyama.
Kageyama said his team is considering collaborating with organizations interested in researching the addition of sacripin to cosmetics. “It’s a natural material that has been used as a food in Japan for a long time, so I think it will be easier to use,” he says.
References: Yoshie Uchida and others, Identification of drought stress-induced antioxidant and antiglycation UV-absorbing oxylipins, sacripin A and sacripin B, in the edible cyanobacterium Aphanothece sacrum, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2023). DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.3c05152
Feature image credit: Kelsey Curtis on Unsplash