Enhancement of Collagen Production in Skin Cells Via Cell Communication Signals
As people age, so does their skin, which becomes apparent as fine and deep wrinkles. Wrinkling is caused by the degradation and reduced synthesis of collagen. In order to overcome the effects of aging on appearance, people often turn to cosmetic intervention. One common treatment for wrinkling is to use collagen fillers to expand the skin. Collagen injection is, however, invasive and may result in pain, bruising, redness, allergic reactions, swelling, lumpiness, and asymmetry. A less intrusive method with fewer risks would be to stimulate collagen production in the patient’s own skin cells. It’s known that collagen production is stimulated through the activation of communication pathways initiated by transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) proteins. However, which other proteins may enhance collagen production is unclear. Here we test the hypothesis that collagen production will be enhanced by the activation of TGF-β signaling when combined with other signaling pathways. In mouse fibroblast cells we altered signaling pathways to test the activation and blockade of TGF-β signaling with and without the activation or blockade of an additional pathway, the p38 kinase cascade, and assessed the effects on collagen production. Our results indicate that TGF-β activation enhances collagen production compared to controls. We are now testing the effects of activation and blockade of the p38 kinase cascade independently and in conjunction with TGF-β activation. Our results will determine if these combined pathways can enhance collagen stimulation and perhaps provide an alternative to collagen fillers to combat wrinkling.
Faculty Mentor: Barbara Murdoch