Methylene Blue May Protect Against Skin Aging

Methylene blue appears to slow and reverse aspects of the aging process in human skin

Described as "the first fully synthetic drug used in medicine", methylene blue is a common and inexpensive chemical used to treat several conditions and is also a potent staining agent. Prior work has demonstrated it has significant potential to treat progeria and can reverse some aspects of aging in human cells. As progeria is classed as a premature aging condition in some respects, with many symptoms similar to those seen in ordinary elderly individuals, there has been hope it may emerge as a pro-longevity medicine. While animal studies using methylene blue to extend life have been lacklustre, lab work has suggested it may he significant benefits at low dosages. 

A new cosmetic ingredient?

In new research published in Scientific Reports a research team has discovered methylene blue can make fundamental changes to skin cell gene expression; ameliorating many aspects of the aging process. Comparing and contrasting results to those using other potential longevity agents including N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), MitoQ and MitoTEMPO (mTEM), the scientists tested varying levels of methylene blue on human fibroblast cells. 

"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. Methylene blue demonstrates a great potential to delay skin aging for all ages"

A solution of methylene blue. Credit: amandabhslater

A solution of methylene blue. Credit: amandabhslater

2 strong markers of cellular senescence, senescence-associated beta-galactosidase and p16, were both reduced in methylene blue treated cells. When the researchers then tested the chemical on a 3D model of human skin containing different layers and structures, they found that methylene blue treatment in a topical form was able to improve several features. Methylene blue at a low dose was able to increase skin thickness and hydration - altering expression of extracellular matrix genes and upregulating elastin and collagen production while limiting levels of reactive oxygen species. 

"This system allowed us to test a range of aging symptoms that we can't replicate in cultured cells alone. 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. We have already begun formulating cosmetics that contain methylene blue. Now we are looking to translate this into marketable products"

We will have to await further data to gain further confirmation on live human skin results. Methylene blue reacts to light exposure in a potentially damaging manner which may limit its application in the day. 

Read more at MedicalXpress