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Leave it to Patricia Wexler, the fashion-forward, world-famous Manhattan-based dermatologist, to put a phrase like “matrix metalloproteinase” on the map. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are collagen-degrading enzymes that play an important role in the aging picture. In a 1996 study by Fisher et al., it was found that UV exposure increase MMPs (and hence collagen production) in three steps, as mentioned in Cosmetic Dermatology. One, UV exposure increases the production of the transcription factor c-jun. Two, the “extra” c-jun combines with another transcription factor already present in high concentration, c-fos, to produce activator protein, AP-1. Three, AP-1 activates the MMP genes, which produce collagenase, gelatinase, and stromelysin-1. It may further be noted that there are twenty-three human MMPs, and MMP-1 has been found in studies to be the MMP responsible for collagen degradation.
In addition to UV radiation, MMPs are activated in other ways that are similar to free radicals: the natural aging process, environmental stresses, smoking, and pollution. And, similar to how natural antioxidants keep free radicals in check, the body naturally produces Tissue Inhibitors (TMPs) to keep levels of MMPs down. Unfortunately, however, as people age, MMP activity increases, while levels of Tissue Inhibitors (TMPs) decrease.
Matrix metalloproteinase activity can be stopped in two ways. The first is to prevent their production. This is best done with a sunscreen with high UVB protection (UVB has been directly liked to MMP production by Fisher et al.) Fortunately, the best UVB protection is easy to find: look for the sunscreen with the highest sun protection factor (SPF), a direct measure of UVB protection. The second method is to stop the degrading activities of the MMPs. According to Dr. Wexler, there are several substances that act as MMP inhibitors (MMPis): epigallocatechin-3-gallate (a derivative of green tea), retinoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid), beta-carotene, DHEA (though this is controversial), polysaccharides, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and flavonoids. Research has shown all of these inhibit MMPs and increase TIMPs.Patricia Wexler’s MMPi Skin Regeneration Serum uses MMPis to inhibit MMP activity in skin cells by more than 80%. According to Wexler’s website, MMP relative inhibition potency in competing products ranges from 1.6 – 15.4%; in Wexler’s serum, the same potency is 100%. Very exciting indeed.
So how does Patricia Wexler’s MMPi Skin Regeneration Serum fit into the anti-aging skin regimé? Based on current research, the ideal anti-aging regimé contains five elements: exfoliating ingredients at least once/week, antioxidants for free-radical protection, retinoids (not always for those with sensitive skin) for increased skin-cell turnover and collagen production, moisture-enhancing ingredients like sodium hyaluronate (not always for those with oily skin), and of course, a UVA/UVB sunscreen of at least SPF 30 for free-radical and MMP protection. Of these, Patricia Wexler’s MMPi Skin Regeneration Serum contains antioxidants, MMPis, and moisture-binding ingredients. If a moisturizer with SPF is applied over the serum, it seems to be an excellent, novel defense against aging. At $55.00 for 3.4 oz., I say, if you got it, go for it. 10/10. One of the best out there!