Debbie Bernheim

Harvard Researcher along with Olay and 23andMe teamed up to conduct a study that links gene expression to the appearance of women’s skin with age. The Multi-Decade and Ethnicity study reveals biological commonalties among a unique subset of women who look exceptionally younger than their age. Additionally, the research found specific gene expression changes that impact in the skin aging process during each decade of a woman’s life.

The study, which was initiated in 2012 and led by Dr. Kimal, MD, Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital, marries genotypic and phenotypic science and examines Caucasian, African, Hispanic, and Asian women in decades from ages 20 – 70. Other resources were utilized to further understand the genes linked to skin aging and their biological variability across different ethnicities.

The initial findings include data from Caucasian and African research participants. It showed that there are similarities among women who have aged well naturally. Through advanced bioinformatics analysis of approximately 20,000 genes, there is a unique skin fingerprint among those “exceptional skin agers” comprised of around 2,000 genes. They are responsible for a range of key biochemical pathways, including those involved in cellular energy product, cell junction and adhesion process, skin and moisture barrier formation, DNA repair and replication, and antioxidant production.

Although these genes are in human skin, how they are expressed determines if someone ages well. Of course, that can be influenced by environmental factors, lifestyle choices and even skin care habits. The researchers hope that they can decode the how and why of this skin fingerprint to allow all women to age beautifully.

The study also found distinct gene expression “tipping points” that occur in each decade as a subset of Caucasian women aged, including: a decline in antioxidant response in our 20’s; a decline in skin bioenergy (vibrational energy) in our 30’s; an increase in cellular senescence (gradual deterioration) in our 40’s; a decline in skin barrier in our 50’s; and an acceleration of all the above in our 60’s.

Continued research on linking exact ethnic ancestry profiles to skin properties to learn more about how skin ages among different ethnicities.

Further studies continue on Asian and Hispanic women in their 20s to 70s to broaden the application of the study’s findings. Once completed, this study will have examined female skin aging throughout six distinct decades and across four different ethnicities.

I feel it’s important to share the continue research that goes on in the Medical Field in skin health and aging skin. It’s truly one of my favorite topics and love sharing it with each of you.