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Why Does Our Skin Lose Fat And Immunity As We Age?

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Everyone likes to maintain youthful skin. But as we age, our skin undergoes a series of natural changes such as loss of fat and immunity. The underlying mechanisms behind these changes have always intrigued the scientific community.

Researchers of the University Of California San Diego School Of Medicine have now identified how the skin loses fat and immunity over time.

Here is how it happens...

With age, the number of dermal fibroblasts tends to decline. Fibroblasts are cells within the dermis layer of the skin, which secrete a collagenous extracellular matrix, and play an important role in wound healing. Some fibroblasts are able to convert themselves into fat cells, and they reside under the dermis, giving the skin a plump, youthful look, and produce a peptide called Cathelicidin that plays a key role in fighting infections.

According to the researchers, it is a protein called "Transforming Growth Factor Beta (TGF-ß)" that stops the dermal fibroblasts from converting into fat cells, and prevents them from producing Cathelicidin.

In the study involving mouse models, when the researchers blocked the TGF-ß pathway, it allowed dermal fibroblasts to get converted into fat cells, and increased the resistance of adult mice to S. aureus infection.

Commenting on the findings, Richard Gallo, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine and senior author on study said, "Babies have a lot of this type of fat under the skin, making their skin inherently good at fighting some types of infections. Aged dermal fibroblasts lose this ability and the capacity to form fat under the skin."

The study is published in the journal Immunity.

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