MAY 30, 2017 06:08 PM PDT

Methylene Blue Shows Potential as Anti-aging Treatment

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch
2 32 2877

Methylene blue is a common and inexpensive antioxidant that has been used in the clinical treatment of a variety of ailments; it has also recently been shown to have anti-aging effects. Scientists at the University of Maryland have aimed to learn more about the effect that methylene blue has on human skin. They found that it was able to reduce or even reverse several established markers of aging in both synthetic skin tissue and human skin cells in culture. The research has been published in Scientific Reports, and is summarized in the following brief video.

"Our work suggests that methylene blue could be a powerful antioxidant for use in skin care products," explained senior author Kan Cao, an Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at UMD. "The effects we are seeing are not temporary. Methylene blue appears to make fundamental, long-term changes to skin cells.”

The investigators exposed healthy and diseased skin cells from middle-aged patients to methylene blue and three other antioxidants, finding that the methylene blue was better than the others at improving the symptoms of aging in both cell types. The diseased cells were affected by progeria, a disease in which aging is accelerated. The scientists observed a reduction in cell death, a decrease in deleterious relative oxygen species, and an increase in cell division in the skin cells, fibroblasts. 

Cao and her team also exposed fibroblasts from donors over age 80 to methylene blue for the same four week period, again finding improvements. The researchers saw a reduction in the expression of two genes often used to indicate aging in cells, senescence-associated beta-galactosidase and p16.

"I was encouraged and excited to see skin fibroblasts, derived from individuals more than 80 years old, grow much better in methylene blue-containing medium with reduced cellular senescence markers," said lead author Zheng-Mei Xiong, an Assistant Research Professor of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at UMD. "Methylene blue demonstrates a great potential to delay skin aging for all ages.”

Cross-section images show 3D human skin models made of living skin cells. Untreated model skin (left panel) shows a thinner dermis layer (black arrow) compared with model skin treated with the antioxidant methylene blue (right panel). / Credit: Zheng-Mei Xiong/University of Maryland

Cao and Xiong have created a model that simulates the three-dimensional structure of skin and except for sweat glands and hair follicles, includes the major structures and layers of skin. The researchers noted this model, which was used for additional work in this report, could also be used in safety testing required by the Food and Drug Administration.

"This system allowed us to test a range of aging symptoms that we can't replicate in cultured cells alone," Cao explained. "Most surprisingly, we saw that model skin treated with methylene blue retained more water and increased in thickness--both of which are features typical of younger skin.”

Cao, Xiong and their colleagues were also encouraged by testing they performed on cosmetic creams that contained methylene blue as they showed little indications that irritation was occurring.

"We have already begun formulating cosmetics that contain methylene blue. Now we are looking to translate this into marketable products. We are also very excited to develop the three-dimensional skin model system. Perhaps down the road we can customize the system with bioprinting, such that we might be able to use a patient's own cells to provide a tailor-made testing platform specific to their needs,” Cao concluded.

 

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via University of Maryland, Scientific Reports

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
JUN 19, 2018
Microbiology
JUN 19, 2018
The Impact of Antibiotics on Gut Microbes
Antibiotics had a dramatic impact on the microbes of the GI tract in a research model.
JUN 24, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
JUN 24, 2018
Cell Division Ceases When CD36 Kicks in
In life, our cells experience a massive amount of turnover, on the order of billions every day. But as cells age, they stop dividing.
JUN 26, 2018
Health & Medicine
JUN 26, 2018
This Blood Test Can Tell if You Cheat on Your Diet
When a person ingests anything, be it food, drink or medication, it gets broken down in the bloodstream so that cells can absorb needed nutrients. When the
JUL 01, 2018
Videos
JUL 01, 2018
Growing Patient Cells on a Chip for Personalized Drug Screens
This work could help eliminate animal models, and tailor medicine to the patient.
JUL 04, 2018
Videos
JUL 04, 2018
How Did Viruses Originate?
There is still a debate about whether or not viruses are a form of life, and we really don't know where they came from.
JUL 12, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
JUL 12, 2018
New and Improved Ways to Create Stem Cells
New techniques that can make stem cells could have a big impact on therapeutics.
Loading Comments...