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Dead Sea Minerals-Induced Positive Stress as an Innovative Resource for Skincare Actives

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Objective: Exposure to certain stresses in small doses might lead to a protective effect by improving resistance to other stressors. Dead Sea (DS) minerals can be a relevant source to induce positive stress due to their high salinity and unique mineral combination. This concept could be further optimized using advanced unique cell biotechnology. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the innovative concept of DS minerals (water extract and black mud) supplementation in small amount to Pichia pastoris yeast growth media as a positive stress by testing the capability of accepted fermentation compounds to affect the appearance of skin. Methods: Skin equivalents were topically applied with different Pichia pastoris fermentations (Metabiotics™). Skin elasticity bio-markers were tested, since loss of elasticity and suppleness is a natural skin aging process leading to deeper wrinkles and loss of firmness. A preliminary screening at the gene level using DNA micro-array was performed and subsequently, the following proteins were detected using ELISA or im-munoblotting assays: elastin, fibulin-1, lysyl oxidase (LOX), metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3), E-cad-herin, claudin 4, tight junction protein (TJP)-1 and TJP-2. UVB irradiation was selected as a stres-sor. Results: Fermentation compounds generated in the presence of small doses of DS minerals affected the expression of various elasticity-related genes in skin. Moreover, they significantly attenuated the abnormal UVB-induced alterations, the proteins elastin, fibulin-1, LOX, MMP-3, E-cad-herin and TJP-2. Conclusions: The observations clearly demonstrate that when DS Metabiotics™ compounds are topically applied, significant alterations in several biomarkers that contribute to skin elasticity occur. Thus, these novel compounds have the potential to serve as skincare actives.
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Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications, 2015, 5, 22-35
Published Online March 2015 in SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/jcdsa
http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jcdsa.2015.51004
How to cite this paper: Portugal-Cohen, M., Dominguez, M.F., Oron, M., Holtz, R. and Ma’or, Z. (2015) Dead Sea Minerals-
Induced Positive Stress as an Innovative Resource for Skincare Actives. Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and
Applications, 5, 22-35. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jcdsa.2015.51004
Dead Sea Minerals-Induced Positive
Stress as an Innovative Resource
for Skincare Actives
Meital Portugal-Cohen1,2*, Maria F. Dominguez3, Miriam Oron1,2, Robert Holtz4,
Zeevi Maor1,2
1Ahava-Dead Sea Laboratories, Lod, Israel
2Dead Sea and Arava Science Center, The Laboratory for Skin Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Ein Gedi, Israel
3Lonza-Personal Care, South Plainfield, USA
4BioInnovation Laboratories Inc., Lakewood, USA
Email: *meital.p@ahava.com
Received 20 January 2015; accepted 8 February 2015; published 11 February 2015
Copyright © 2015 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Abstract
Objective: Exposure to certain stresses in small doses might lead to a protective effect by improv-
ing resistance to other stressors. Dead Sea (DS) minerals can be a relevant source to induce posi-
tive stress due to their high salinity and unique mineral combination. This concept could be fur-
ther optimized using advanced unique cell biotechnology. The purpose of this study was to eluci-
date the innovative concept of DS minerals (water extract and black mud) supplementation in small
amount to Pichia pastoris yeast growth media as a positive stress by testing the capability of ac-
cepted fermentation compounds to affect the appearance of skin. Methods: Skin equivalents were
topically applied with different Pichia pastoris fermentations (Metabiotics). Skin elasticity bio-
markers were tested, since loss of elasticity and suppleness is a natural skin aging process leading
to deeper wrinkles and loss of firmness. A preliminary screening at the gene level using DNA micro-
array was performed and subsequently, the following proteins were detected using ELISA or im-
munoblotting assays: elastin, fibulin-1, lysyl oxidase (LOX), metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3), E-cad-
herin, claudin 4, tight junction protein (TJP)-1 and TJP-2. UVB irradiation was selected as a stres-
sor. Results: Fermentation compounds generated in the presence of small doses of DS minerals af-
fected the expression of various elasticity-related genes in skin. Moreover, they significantly atte-
nuated the abnormal UVB-induced alterations, the proteins elastin, fibulin-1, LOX, MMP-3, E-cad-
herin and TJP-2. Conclusions: The observations clearly demonstrate that when DS Metabiotics
compounds are topically applied, significant alterations in several biomarkers that contribute to
skin elasticity occur. Thus, these novel compounds have the potential to serve as skincare actives.
*
Corresponding author.
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
23
Keywords
Skin Elasticity Biomarkers, Skin Aging, Active Ingredients, Dead Sea Minerals, Positive Stress
1. Introduction
1.1. Positive Stress and Hormesis
Stressors, both endogenous and exogenous, are encountered constantly through an organisms life cycle. As a
first line of defense against external insults, skin frequently works to protect itself and to effectively shield the
internal tissues against threats such as, UV irradiation, free radicals attack and exposure to environmental agents.
Over time, damage to the skin occurs, which leads to drastic changes in skins integrity and to the activation of
aging processes. Researchers from various scientific disciplines such as toxicology, medicine and cosmetology
have studied the effects of skin exposure to various chemicals stressors at different concentrations at the tissue,
organ and whole organism level [1]. Major advances have been made in screening and evaluation processes
which help to determine more accurately the damaging effects of substance exposure (chemicals or other stres-
sors) on skin health [2]. Following dose-response work, the phenomenon of hormesiswas proposed, in which
a damaging substance surprisingly elicited a positive effect when used in small concentrations [1]. Extensive re-
search has been carried out exploring hormetic effects of a wide range of substances, ranging from antioxidants,
to biological intermediates etc. [2].
1.2. Dead Sea Environment as a Positive Stressor
The Dead Sea (DS), although famous worldwide for its healing properties, is a stressful living environment: DS
water and mud with their almost saturated natural salinity prevents organisms, such as fish and aquatic plants,
from living in these conditions. At the same time, in spite of their living restrictions, it is known that DS water
and mud can be therapeutic for different skin and arthritis disorders in moderate doses of exposure [3].
DS water, as compared to seawater, contains a tenfold concentration and an unusual composition of various
cations; mainly magnesium, sodium, calcium, potassium and strontium. These metal cations are balanced with
halogen anions mainly chlorides and bromides [4]. DS black mud, which contains antibacterial and hyperemic
properties, is rich in minerals similarly to DS water [5]. The therapeutic properties of DS water and mud have
been thoroughly investigated and published. Clinical studies demonstrate that DS water and mud contribute to a
significant improvement in patientssymptoms of skin disorders, mainly psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, seborrheic
dermatitis and vitiligo [6]-[8].
Recently, it has been demonstrated that photo-damage protective effects occur in human skin organ culture
following exposure to DS water extract or DS mud at certain doses [9]-[12].
Due to its extreme and unusual conditions, it is well-known that the DS area contains unique flora and botan-
icals which have adaptogenic characteristics [4] [12]. This allows an organism to pre-adapt itself in a manner
that contributes to its survival against various endogenous stressors (aging and different pathological processes)
and exogenous stressors (extreme conditions such as radiation, temperature, dryness, etc.). Secondary metabo-
lites consist of enzymes, vitamins, and various natural components are presented in the extract and can contri-
bute to protection against various stressors [13]. Thus, here DS-induced stress has a positive effect by producing
secondary metabolites enabling better coping with harsh environmental conditions. Indeed, DS region-originated
botanical extracts, such as palm date (Phoenix dactilifera) extracts, Dunaliella salina green algae extract and
Jujube (zyziphus) extracts, were reported to have beneficial skin healing effects.
1.3. MetabioticsTechnique Using DS Minerals as a Positive Stress for Pichia pastoris
Yeast Growth
DS waters and DS muds potency to induce positive stress was assumed due to their high salinity, unique min-
eral combination and well established therapeutic effects. Based on hormesis concepts, we investigated how
their positive stress could be further optimized using advanced unique cell biotechnology, Metabiotics(inter-
national patent application is WO2010/011885 A1). In this respect, DS water extract and DS mud were provided
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
24
as nutrients in small doses for the yeast Pichia pastoris (P. pastoris), which utilized and completely metabolized
them as positive stress supplement by fermentation. Hence, this fermentation product might have biological ef-
fects on skin and serve as a potent skincare active. In this work, DS minerals supplementation as a positive stress
to P. pastoris was examined by testing the effect of fermentation extracts on 3D human skin equivalents.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. DS Water Extract and DS Mud Supplementation to Pichia pastoris (P. pastoris)
2.1.1. Materials
P. pastoris was obtained from ATCC (# 60372) and maintained on yeast-peptone-dextrose (YPD) agar plates.
The culture is grown in shaker flasks containing YPD liquid media. The fermentation media is Yeast Nitrogen-
Base (YNB) growth media supplemented with glycerol, containing 2.7% H3PO4, 0.09% CaSO4, 1.8% K2SO4,
1.5% MgSO4, 0.41% KOH, 4% glycerol (Sigma St. Louis, MO), 1% and 2% sterile Dead Sea water extract
(Osmoter), 1% and 2% sterile Dead Sea Mud (Ahava-Dead Sea Laboratories, Inc., Israel). Antifoam sigma-
emulsion B was used at onset of fermentation only (Sigma, St. Louis, MO).
2.1.2. Fermentation
P. pastoris cultures maintained on YPD agar plates were grown in YPD liquid media at 30˚C, 250 rpm, for 24
hours, until Optical Density (OD) reaches 2.0 at 600 nm. Scale up into 2L bioreactor (2L New Brunswick Scien-
tific, Edison NJ) using Yeast Nitrogen-Base (YNB) growth media and supplemented with glycerol and 1.0%
sterile DS Mud after 24 hours post-inoculation with P. pastoris. The pH was kept constant at 5.0 ± 0.5 with 2 M
NH4OH. The dissolved oxygen (DO) levels were maintained at 30% saturation by regulating the agitation be-
tween 100 and 600 rpm. The air flow into the vessel was maintained at 1VVM, throughout the process. The
fermentation continued until OD reaches 2.5 at 600 nm, approximately 50 hours post inoculation. At this time
the fermentation was considered complete and the batch was harvested and processed.
2.2. Skin Tissue Preparation
Upon arrival, the tissues were stored at 4˚C until used. For use, the tissues were removed from the agarose-
shipping tray and placed into a 6-well plate containing 2 ml of assay medium and incubated at 37˚C ± 2˚C and
5% ± 1% CO2 overnight.
2.3. Treatment of the Tissues
After the initial overnight incubation, the tissues were treated topically with the test materials or phosphate buf-
fered saline (PBS) for untreated controls for 24 hours. At the end of this incubation period the test material was
rinsed from the tissues using PBS and then selected tissues were exposed to 225 mJ/cm2 UVB. Immediately af-
ter the UVB exposure the test material or PBS was reapplied to the tissues and the tissues were incubated further
for 48 hours. Two sets of tissues were prepared and treated for this study. At the end of this second incubation
period, the tissues were washed again and the first set of tissues was used to assess changes in viability (MTT
assay), the second set was used for immunoblotting assays. Media from the second set of tissues was used for
the ELISA assays and the lysyl oxidase activity assay.
2.4. Skin Viability by MTT Assay
After the final wash the tissue culture media was replaced with 2 ml of tissue culture media supplemented with 1
mg/ml MTT and the tissues were incubated for 3 hr at 37˚C + 2˚C and 5% ± 1% CO2. After the incubation with
the MTT solution the tissues were rinsed and placed into wells containing 4 ml of isopropyl alcohol to extract
the purple formazin crystals. The extraction was allowed to continue overnight, after which 200 µl of the iso-
propyl extracts was transferred to a 96-well plate and the plate was read at 540 nm using isopropyl alcohol as a
blank.
2.5. DNA Micro-Array for Gene Expression
Total RNA was isolated using Ambion RNAqueous Kit. mRNA amplification was performed by Ambion Mes-
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
25
sageAmp aRNA kit which included first and second strand cDNA synthesis, cDNA purification and in-vitro
transcription to synthesize aRNA and aRNA purification. aRNA was labeled with fluorescent dyes using Perki-
nElmer ASAP RNA Labeling Kit and concentrated by Molecular Probes Ribogreen Assay.
To purify the labeled aRNA, a Millipore Microcon YM-30 filter column was inserted into a collection tube
and filled with 400 μl of TE buffer. The Cy3 and Cy5 probes were combined and then added to the Microcon
filter and thoroughly mixed with the TE buffer. The filter was centrifuged at 12,000 RPM for 8 minutes and the
flow through was discarded. The column was then washed twice with 400 μl of TE buffer, discarding the flow
though after each centrifugation (12,000 RPM for 8 minutes). After the final wash the filter column was inverted,
placed into a new collection tube and centrifuged at 12,000 RPM for 2 minutes to collect the probe.
Microarray Hybridization and Washing was performed by Agilent Technologies Microarrays. The microar-
rays were then scanned with an Axon GenePix 4100A Scanner with the scanning resolution set to 5 μm and
analyzed with GenePix Pro software. During the initial scan the PMT gains for the scanner were adjusted such
that the Cy5/Cy3 image count ratios were between 0.95 and 1.05.
2.6. Determination of Elastin Level by Competitive ELISA
Soluble α-elastin was dissolved in 0.1 M sodium carbonate at a concentration of 1.25 μg/ml. 150 μl of this solu-
tion was then applied to the wells of a 96-well Maxisorp Nunc plate and the plate was incubated overnight at
4˚C. On the following day the wells were saturated with PBS containing 0.25% bovine serum albomine (BSA)
and 0.05% Tween 20. The plate was then incubated with this blocking solution for 1 hour at 37˚C and then
washed two times with PBS containing 0.05% Tween 20.
An anti-elastin antibody solution was prepared (the antibody was diluted 1:100 in PBS containing 0.25% BSA
and 0.05% Tween 20) and 20 μl of the solution was added to the tube. The tubes were then incubated overnight
at 4˚C ± 2˚C. On the following day, 150 μl was transferred from each tube to the 96-well elastin ELISA plate,
and the plate was incubated for 1 hr at room temperature. The plate was then washed 3 times with PBS contain-
ing 0.05% Tween 20. After washing, 200 μl of a solution containing a peroxidase linked secondary antibody di-
luted in PBS containing 0.25% BSA and 0.05% Tween 20 was added, and the plate was incubated for 1 hr at
room temperature. After washing the plate three times as described above, 200 μl of a substrate solution was
added and the plate was incubated for 10 to 30 minutes in the dark at room temperature. After this final incuba-
tion the plate was read at 460 nm using a plate reader.
2.7. Lysyl Oxidase Activity Assay (Abcam Lysyl Oxidase Activity Assay Kit, Red
Fluorescence)
For this assay, 50 μl of each cell culture media was added to the wells of a 96-well plate, followed by the addi-
tion of 50 μl of reaction mix (fluorescent substrate and horse radish peroxidase, mixed in lysyl oxidase assay
buffer). The plate was then incubated at 37˚C for 30 minutes. At the end of the incubation period the plate was
read using a fluorometer with an excitation wavelength of 540 nm and an emission wavelength of 590 nm. En-
zyme activity was measured in relative fluorescence units.
2.8. Quantification of MMP-3 and Fibulin-1 Levels by ELISA Procedure
2.8.1. Tissue Preparation for ELISA
The ELISA plates were prepared by diluting the appropriate capture antibody in PBS. Next, 100 μl of the diluted
capture antibody was added to the wells of a 96-well ELISA plate and the plate was incubated overnight at room
temperature. On the following day the plate was washed three times with 300 μl wash buffer (0.05% Tween 20
in PBS) and then blocked by adding 300 μl of blocking buffer (1% BSA in PBS) to each well. The plate was in-
cubated with the blocking buffer for at least one hour. After the incubation the blocking buffer was removed and
the plate was washed three times as described above.
2.8.2. MMP-3 Levels by ELISA Procedure
After sample incubation the plate was washed three times as described above. Once the last wash was removed,
100 μl of a biotin conjugated detection antibody was added. After incubating the plate for two hours at room
temperature the plate was washed again as described above. 100 μl of HRP-streptavidin was then added to each
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
26
well and the plate was incubated for 20 minutes at room temperature. Once the last wash was removed, 100 μl of
substrate solution (hydrogen peroxide + tetramethylbenzidine as a chromagen) was added to each well. Once a
sufficient level of color development had occurred, 50 μl of stop solution (2 N sulfuric acid) was added to each
well and the plate was read at 460 nm using a Packard Spectra Count plate reader.
2.8.3. Fibulin-1 ELISA Procedure
A series of standards were prepared and 100 μl of each of these standards was dispensed into two wells (dupli-
cates) in the appropriate 96-well plate. Subsequently, 100 μl of each sample was added to additional wells and
the plate was incubated for two hours at 37˚C. After the incubation the plate was aspirated but not washed, and
then 100 μl of a biotin conjugated detection antibody was added. After incubating the plate for one hour at 37˚C
the plate was washed three times with wash buffer. 100 μl of HRP-streptavidin was then added to each well and
the plate was incubated for one hour at 37˚C. Once the last wash was removed, 100 μl of substrate solution (hy-
drogen peroxide + tetramethylbenzidine as a chromagen) was added to each well. Once a sufficient level of col-
or development had occurred, 50 μl of stop solution (2 N sulfuric acid) was added to each well and the plate was
read at 460 nm using a Packard Spectra Count plate reader.
2.9. Quantification of E-Cadherin, ZO-1, ZO-2 by Immunoblotting
2.9.1. Tissue Preparation for Immunoblotting
At the end of the treatment period the tissues were homogenized in 500 μl of CelLytic MT Cell Lysis Reagent
supplemented with protease inhibitors. The homogenates were then centrifuged at 13,500 RPM (4˚C) for 10 min
and the supernatant was retained. Prior to use, the protein concentration was determined using a BCA protein
assay.
2.9.2. Bicinchoninic Acid (BCA) Protein Assay
Fifty volumes of Reagent A (BCA solution) was combined with 1 volume of Reagent B (4% (w/v) CuSO4-5
H2O) in a 15-ml centrifuge tube. Two hundred microliters of this combined reagent was then be dispensed into a
96-well plate. Next, 10 µl of each of the standards or sample was added to respective wells (standards were
made using 2 mg/ml bovine serum albumin dissolved in PBS, and a series of 50% dilutions were made). The
plate was then covered and incubated it at 37˚C ± 2˚C for 30 ± 5 min and then read at 540 nm using a microplate
reader.
2.9.3. Immunoblotting
A membrane was equilibrated in PBS and assembled into a Bio-Dot microfiltration apparatus. After assembly,
200 µl of PBS was added to each well used in the Bio-Dot and the vacuum was applied to ensure that there was
adequate flow through all of the wells. Next, each sample (approximately 10 μg) was assigned a well in the ap-
paratus and was applied to the appropriate well. The samples were filtered under low vacuum. PBS was added to
wells not assigned a sample to ensure that the membrane did not dry out during the procedure. At the end of the
blotting procedure an additional 200 μl of PBS was applied and filtered through each well. The membrane was
then removed from the Bio-Dot apparatus, washed in PBS for 5 - 10 minutes and then placed into blocking solu-
tion (PBS, 1% BSA) and allowed to incubate for at least 1 hour at room temperature on a rocking platform.
After blocking, the membrane was transferred to 20 ml of PBST (PBS with 0.1% Tween-20) and 0.5% BSA
with an appropriate dilution of detection antibody and allowed to incubate overnight at 4˚C on a rocking plat-
form. After this incubation the membrane was washed 3 times (1× for 15 minutes and 2× for 5 minutes) in
PBST. The secondary antibody (conjugated with a fluorophore) was then incubated with the membrane in 15 ml
of PBST with 0.5% BSA for 1 hour at room temperature and then washed 3 times with PBS (1× for 15 minutes,
for 5 minutes). After the final wash, the membrane was placed into a BioRad Molecular Imager FX and
scanned using an excitation laser and emission filter combination appropriate for the fluorophore. Images pro-
duced by the scanner were then analyzed using ImageJ image analysis software.
2.10. Data Analysis
Values are expressed as mean ± standard deviation. Differences between average values were tested for
significance using the Student t-test and considered significant for p 0.05. Each experiment included four
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
27
repetitions.
3. Results
P. pastoris fermentation with DS water extract or DS mud was completed successfully. Thus, the fermentation
extracts were utilized for a further analysis by application to skin equivalents.
Skin equivalents were topically treated with 2% of different Metabioticspreparations: P. pastoris ferment
as a vehicle, DS water extract (Osmoter) ferment, DS mud ferment and DS mud ferment at 1:1 ratio. For ana-
lyzing skin viability, MTT mitochondrial activity assay was used. Skin viability was not changed following top-
ical application of all tested preparations (Figure 1). Thus, all preparations were further analyzed for different
proteins playing an important role in skin elasticity, as loss of elasticity and suppleness is a natural skin aging
process leading to deeper wrinkles and loss of firmness [14]. These proteins were selected based on a previous
micro-array gene analysis on skin equivalents showing that Metabioticspreparations may alter gene expres-
sion-related to extracellular matrix (ECM) formation and cell to cell adhesion.
Table 1 describes several elasticity-related genes following the different treatments.
Elasticity-related protein expression or activity was detected following topical application with the different
DS ferments. Skin elasticity is impaired as a result of aging or photo-damage and elasticity proteins can be ex-
pressed abnormally due to UVB irradiation. Hence, ECM proteins and adhesion dermal-epidermal junction pro-
teins were tested with and without UVB irradiation.
Elastin, fibulin-1, lysyl oxidase (LOX) and metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3) play an important role in ECM
structure. Elastin level significantly increased by 75% following skin UVB irradiation (Figure 2). This increase
was eliminated by pre-treatment with most of the different DS ferments. Elastin level was the most similar to the
basal level (control, non-irradiated) following application of DS mud ferment. Pre-treatment with a mixture of
DS water extract and DS mud led to a decrease of elastin levels, below the original non-irradiated baseline levels.
In non-irradiated skin samples, elastin levels were significantly elevated by 34% following application of DS
mud ferment.
Fibulin-1 is a secreted glycoprotein that is found in association with extracellular matrix structures including
elastin-containing fibers. Fibulin-1 levels significantly increased following UVB irradiation more than two-fold
(Figure 3). Pre-treatment with DS mud and DS water extract ferments attenuated this elevation.
Lysyl oxidase (LOX) is an extracellular enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of lysine residues in collagen and
elastin precursors resulting in cross-linking of collagen and elastin. This function is essential for stabilization of
collagen fibrils and for the integrity and elasticity of mature elastin in skin. LOX activity significantly increased
following UVB irradiation by 46%. Among the treatments, only P. pastoris ferment demonstrated a significant
increase in LOX activity by 58% in non-irradiated skin. All three DS ferments significantly abolished UVB-
induced LOX activity (Figure 4).
Figure 1. Skin viability following treatment with different P. pastoris fer-
ments. MatTek full thickness skin tissues were treated with different P. pas-
toris ferments for 72 hr and their viability was tested by MTT assay as de-
scribed in the methods section. Data are presented as mean ± SD.
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
28
Figure 2. Skin elastin levels following treatment with different P. pastoris
ferments. MatTek full thickness skin tissues were treated with different P.
pastoris ferments for 24 hr and UVB irradiated at 225 mJ/cm2 after the re-
moval of preparations. Immediately after the UVB exposure the test materials
were reapplied to the tissues and the tissues were incubated for 48 hours.
Elastin levels were tested by ELISA as described in the methods section. Data
are presented as mean ± SD. **p < 0.01 irradiated vs. non-irradiated-control;
*p < 0.05 DS mud ferment vs. control-non-irradiated, irradiated vs. non-irra-
diated-DS water extract:DS mud ferment 1:1.
Table 1. Selected elasticity-related genes expression following different P. pastoris fermentation preparations.
Gene name Gene expression vs. control (PBS)
2% P. pastoris ferment 2% DS water extract
ferment 2% DS mud ferment
1% DS water extract ferment +
1% DS mud ferment
Elastin NC NC NC +
Fibulin-1 NC + + +
Lysyl oxidase NC NC NC +
MMP-3 - - - -
E-cadherin NC + + +
Claudin-4 NC + + +
TJ protein 1 + NC + +
TJ protein 2 NC NC NC +
*Ratio of median: +: >1.3 significant up-regulation; : <0.7 significant down-regulation; NC = no change.
MMP-3 is an enzyme involved in the breakdown of extracellular matrix and is known to increase following
irradiation. MMP-3 levels were significantly increased by 11% following irradiation in the control group. This
elevation was eliminated following topical application of the different ferments. In non-irradiated samples, a
significant increase of MMP-3 by 12% was observed following application of DS water extract ferment (Figure
5).
E-cadherin, Claudin 4, TJP-1 and TJP-2 play a significant role in dermal epidermal junction structure.
E-cadherin is a calcium dependent protein and is important in cell adhesion, forming adherent junctions to
bind cells within tissues together. E-cadherin levels declined by 34% following irradiation. Pre-treatment with
DS water extract ferment and a mixture of DS water and mud ferments attenuated this reduction. In non-irradi-
ated samples, treatment with DS mud ferment significantly decreased E-cadherin levels by 30% (Figure 6).
Claudin 4 is an integral membrane protein, which is an important component of the cell junctions, which form
the paracellular barrier. With regard to Claudin 4 expression, neither treatment with the ferments nor the
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
29
Figure 3. Skin fibulin-1 levels following treatment with different P. pastoris
ferments. MatTek full thickness skin tissues were treated with different P.
pastoris ferments for 24 hr and UVB irradiated at 225 mJ/cm2 after the re-
moval of preparations. Immediately after the UVB exposure the test materials
were reapplied to the tissues and the tissues were incubated for 48 hours. Fi-
bulin-1 levels were tested by ELISA. Data are presented as mean ± SD. **p <
0.01 irradiated vs. non-irradiated-control; *p < 0.05 irradiated vs. non-irra-
diated-vehicle.
Figure 4. Skin lysyl oxidase (LOX) activity following treatment with differ-
ent P. pastoris ferments. MatTek full thickness skin tissues were treated with
different P. pastoris ferments for 24 hr and UVB irradiated at 225 mJ/cm2 af-
ter the removal of preparations. Immediately after the UVB exposure the test
materials were reapplied to the tissues and the tissues were incubated for 48
hours. LOX activity was tested by Lysyl Oxidase Activity Assay Kit
(ABCAM) as described in the methods section. Data are presented as mean ±
SD. **p < 0.01 irradiated vs. non-irradiated-control; vehicle vs. control-non-
irradiated.
combined UVB exposure and ferments were observed to have an impact. Claudin 4 expression was not observed
to be significantly different with any of the treatments (Figure 7).
TJP-1, 2 are involved in signal transduction at cell-cell junctions, anchoring strands of the cytoskeleton and
are located on the peripheral membrane.
TJP-1 levels significantly increased by 47% following UVB irradiation. All ferment treatments reduced this
elevation. In non-irradiated skin, vehicle ferment significantly increased TJP-1 levels by 24% compared to con-
trol (Figure 8).
Contrary to TJP-1, TJP-2 levels significantly decreased by 35% following UVB irradiation. Only pre-treat-
ment with DS water + DS mud ferment attenuated this decrease. In non-irradiated skin TJP-2 decreased by 24%
following application of vehicle ferment (Figure 9).
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
30
Figure 5. Skin matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3) levels following treat-
ment with different P. pastoris ferments. MatTek full thickness skin tissues
were treated with different P. pastoris ferments for 24 hr and UVB irradiated
at 225 mJ/cm2 after the removal of preparations. Immediately after the UVB
exposure the test materials were reapplied to the tissues and the tissues were
incubated for 48 hours. MMP-3 levels were tested by ELISA as described in
the methods section. Data are presented as mean ± SD. **p < 0.01 irradiated
vs. non-irradiated-control; DS water extract ferment vs. control-non-irradi-
ated.
Figure 6. Skin E-cadherin levels following treatment with different P. pasto-
ris ferments. MatTek full thickness skin tissues were treated with different P.
pastoris ferments for 24 hr and UVB irradiated at 225 mJ/cm2 after the re-
moval of preparations. Immediately after the UVB exposure the test materials
were reapplied to the tissues and the tissues were incubated for 48 hours.
E-cadherin levels were tested using immunoblotting as described in the me-
thods section. Data are presented as mean ± SD. **p < 0.01 irradiated vs. non-
irradiated-control; DS mud ferment vs. control-non-irradiated.
4. Discussion
Different mechanisms to cope with stressors have evolved in organisms. Interestingly, exposure to certain stresses
in small doses might lead to protective effects by improving resistance to other exogenous and endogenous
stressors. Thus, positive stress can be beneficial for well-functioning and survival of cells and organisms.
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
31
Figure 7. Skin claudin 4 levels following treatment with different P. pastoris
ferments. MatTek full thickness skin tissues were treated with different P.
pastoris ferments for 24 hr and UVB irradiated at 225 mJ/cm2 after the re-
moval of preparations. Immediately after the UVB exposure the test materials
were reapplied to the tissues and the tissues were incubated for 48 hours.
Claudin 4 levels were tested using immunoblotting as described in the me-
thods section. Data are presented as mean ± SD.
Figure 8. Skin tight junction protein 1 (TJP-1) levels following treatment
with different P. pastoris ferments. MatTek full thickness skin tissues were
treated with different P. pastoris ferments for 24 hr and UVB irradiated at
225 mJ/cm2 after the removal of preparations. Immediately after the UVB ex-
posure the test materials were reapplied to the tissues and the tissues were in-
cubated for 48 hours. TJP-1 levels were tested using immunoblotting as de-
scribed in the methods section. Data are presented as mean ± SD. **p < 0.01
irradiated vs. non-irradiated-control; vehicle vs. control-non-irradiated.
This study elucidated the effect of positive stress metabolites, derived from the yeast P. pastoris fermentation
on human skin equivalents. This was performed by adding DS water extract and DS mud in small doses as nu-
trients supplements. P. pastoris was used as the microorganism mainly because its long history of exploitation in
the pharmaceutical industry recognized as safe by the FDA, and only recently being explored for personal care
applications.
In this study, the innovative concept of DS minerals supplementation as a positive stress to P. pastoris was
investigated by testing the capability of yeast fermentation compounds to elicit beneficial effects on human skin
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
32
Figure 9. Skin tight junction protein 2 (TJP-2) levels following treatment
with different P. pastoris ferments. MatTek full thickness skin tissues were
treated with different P. pastoris ferments for 24 hr and UVB irradiated at
225 mJ/cm2 after the removal of preparations. Immediately after the UVB
exposure the test materials were reapplied to the tissues and the tissues were
incubated for 48 hours. TJP-2 levels were tested using immunoblotting as de-
scribed in the methods section. Data are presented as mean ± SD. ***p < 0.001
irradiated vs. non-irradiated-control; **p < 0.01 vehicle vs. control-non-irra-
diated; *p < 0.05 irradiated vs. non-irradiated-DS water extract: DS mud 1:1.
using 3D human skin equivalents. The purpose was to test whether these compounds could serve as potent skin-
care actives. The main focus was on their effect on skin elasticity. Skin elasticity is crucial for skin appearance
and supports lifting, firming and tightening and its properties can be reflected by different proteins related to
extracellular matrix (ECM) and to dermal epidermal junctions (DEJ).
The observations clearly show that topical applications with fermentation compounds derived from P. pasto-
ris exposed to DS minerals as a positive stress, have significant effects on the expression or activity of proteins
related to skin elasticity. The major fermentation compoundsimpact is on UVB-irradiated skin, where it can be
seen that damage UVB-related proteins alteration effects can be attenuated.
Chronic exposure to UV solar radiation is usually the main environmental insult to human skin. Since UV
exposure leads to skin photo-damage and consequently to skin aging, it has been selected as a stressor in this
study.
Various protein biomarkers related to skin elasticity were tested in UVB-irradiated and non-irradiated skin
equivalent samples following treatment with different P. pastoris ferments derived from exposure to DS water
or mud.
From the results, it can be seen that skin exposure to UVB irradiation significantly led to the induction of dif-
ferent proteins related to ECM: elastin, fibulin-1 and LOX activity.
Elastin is one of the important components of elastic fibers in skins ECM. Solar UV exposure leads to con-
nective tissue damage that includes accumulation of abnormal elastic fibers. Studies show that UVB irradiation
stimulates synthesis of elastin in human skin and experimental animals [15] [16] as well as of tropoelastin, a
monomer precursor of elastin increased in human reconstituted skin [17].
Elastic fibers formation is catalyzed by LOX enzyme, which is crucial for the initiation of elastin formation
by covalent cross-linking of tropoelastin monomers into elastin polymers. Therefore, it is expected that elastin
formation will be associated with LOX activity.
Another protein which contributes to the elastic properties of connective tissue fibers and is involved with the
process of fibrogenesis is the elastic fiber component Fibulin-1 [18].
The link among elastin, LOX and fibulin-1 in this study is emphasized due to their elevation following UVB
irradiation, suggesting abnormal elastosis. However, pre-treatment with the different P. pastoris ferments has a
photo-protective effect via eliminating or diminishing these 3 biomarkers UVB-induced elevation.
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
33
Among all tested ferments, DS water extract ferment and DS mud ferment were the only ferments which sig-
nificantly attenuated all three biomarkers that were induced following irradiation (Figures 2-4).
The mixture of DS water extract ferment and DS mud ferment reduced UVB-induced elastin and UVB-in-
duced LOX, whilst the vehicle reduced only UVB-induced elastin. One proposed mode of action for reducing
elevation of UVB-induced elastic fiber by DS elements-derived ferments can be via elastin cross-linking me-
chanism.
In non-irradiated skin only DS mud ferment significantly increased elastin level. However, this elevation was
not accompanied by LOX activity elevation or fibulin level elevation. Here pre-treatment with DS mud ferment
possesses a selective impact on elastin level, which differs between irradiated skin and non-irradiated skin. Thus,
there is a possibility that the moderate increase in elastin level due to DS mud ferment application might occur
due to another mechanism and may even have a positive effect on non-irradiated skin as no stress. This can be
further elucidated by protein localization and structure.
Proteins of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) family are involved in the breakdown of ECM and during
tissue remodeling in normal physiological processes as well as in pathological conditions. Exposure to UVB ir-
radiation leads to inflammatory process affecting also on MMPs induction and might disrupt the balance to-
wards abnormal ECM breakdown [19]. Among MMPs family MMP-3 can activate MMP-1, MMP-7 and MMP-
9 and therefore plays an important role in mediation of ECM degradation. In this study MMP-3 activity signifi-
cantly increased as expected. All ferments reduced this UVB-induced activity (Figure 5). This result supports
the protective effect against UVB-induced ECM degradation. MMP-3 degrades collagen, but also proteoglycans,
fibronectin, laminin and elastin [20]. It has been demonstrated that in irradiated skin there is a strong link be-
tween enhancement in MMP-3 activity and collagen degradation [21]. The fact that not only elastin, but also
other ECM protein serve as a target for MMP-3 can explain the elevation in elastin following irradiation despite
the increase in MMP-3 activity. Moreover, it was reported that among MMP family members MMP-12 is the
most active MMP against elastin [22]. This also explains that UVB irradiation may contribute to the accumula-
tion of elastotic material and prevents the normal formation of elastic fibers in human skin and that different
Metabioticspreparations can diminish this effect.
E-cadherin is the main cadherin in the human epidermis and controls epidermal adherent junctions. It is the
major adhesion mediator between epidermal melanocytes and keratinocytes [23] [24]. Loss of E-cadherin ap-
pears to lead to malignant processes resulting in skin cancers such as melanoma and basal cell carcinoma [25]
[26]. It has been shown previously that UVB irradiation induced the cleavage of E-cadherin in HaCaT cells [26].
In this study, UVB irradiation also led to a significant decrease in E-cadherin levels, suggesting damage to epi-
dermal junctions (Figure 6). Application of DS water extract ferment and a mixture of DS water extract ferment
and DS mud ferment prevented the decrease of E-cadherin following irradiation and hence, may provide a pro-
tection against this phenomenon. However, pre-treatment with DS mud ferment did not attenuate UVB-induced
E-cadherin decrease, and led to a slight decrease in E-cadherin basal level and hence, might have a negative ef-
fect on this protein. Nevertheless, it is possible that in other concentrations this effect will be significantly re-
duced.
Tight junction proteins have been shown to be involved in barrier function of the skin by organizing the
intracellular junctions. UVB irradiation is known to result in functional deterioration of tight junctions [27].
Tight junctions protein 1 (TJP-1) and tight junction protein 2 (TJP-2) expression was indeed altered following
irradiation. TJP-1 level was elevated after irradiation, probably due an abnormal accumulation. Moreover, it has
been shown that the location of TJP-1 alters after exposure to UVB [28]. All fermentation compounds prevented
the UVB-induced over-expression of TJP-1 thus, might provide protection. TJP-2 level however, declined fol-
lowing irradiation pointing other damage mechanism to this protein by UVB and a complex damage to the TPs
network. This decrease was not fully recovered by pre-treatment with fermentation compounds.
5. Conclusion
In conclusion, in this study, we managed to implement the positive stress concept by adding small amounts of
Dead Sea minerals to the growth medium of the yeast P. pastoris and testing the generated fermentation com-
pounds on human skin equivalents. The observations demonstrate that when these compounds are topically ap-
plied in a low concentration in-vivo (2%) similarly to those of skincare actives, significant alterations in several
proteins contributing to skin elasticity occur. Since a disruption in skin elasticity is a main phenomenon in aged
or photo-damaged skin, these compounds are potent to serve as skincare actives. It is important to note that the
M. Portugal-Cohen et al.
34
in-vivo implications of an increase or decrease in a particular protein level are not always fully understood.
However, these alterations provide a good basis for further elucidation of the altered protein localization and
their structure as well as for in-vivo tests.
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... Kaolin clay is used in cosmetology because of its beneficial effect on dry and sensitive skin, as this type of skin tends to delaminate and form wrinkles and furrows. In the cosmetics industry, kaolin is added to powders, creams, soaps, dusting powders, cleansing milk, toothpaste, and shampoos [30]. Kaolin is widespread. ...
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