The type of special subcutaneous cells that become adipose tissue, a process that ceases over the years causing wrinkles, is the “secret” of keeping the skin young and protected, according to a study published last Wednesday.
“We found out why skin loses its ability to form fat over the years,” says Richard Gallo, head of the department of dermatology at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and senior author of the study.
A study published in the scientific journal Immunity showed that some cells in the dermis, known as fibroblasts, are able to transform into fatty tissue, which is deposited under the skin and gives it a youthful appearance.
Likewise, fibroblasts produce a peptide (combining a small amount of amino acids), “which plays a crucial role in fighting infections,” according to a study conducted by the UCSD team.
"The loss of the ability of fibroblasts to turn into fat affects how the skin fights infections, and can affect the way it looks with aging," explains the researcher.
Gallo notes that this process is unique and typical for a certain type of fibroblast, and therefore weight gain is not a solution for obtaining this adipose tissue, which gives the skin a fluffy look and helps fight infections.
On the contrary, he adds, obesity “makes it difficult to fight infections.”
The study states that the TGF-beta protein, which controls many cellular functions, is responsible for stopping “the conversion of certain fibroblasts into fat and preventing the production of cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide that helps protect against bacterial infections.”
“Children under the skin have such fat that, by its nature, fights well with some types of infections,” Gallo notes.