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Topical Benefits of Two Fucoidan-Rich Extracts from Marine Macroalgae

Authors:
  • Marinova Pty Ltd

Abstract and Figures

Two concentrated and well-characterized fucoidan-rich extracts were investigated to determine their benefits in topical applications. An Undaria pinnatifida extract, containing 85% fucoidan, and a Fucus vesiculosus co-extract, containing 60% fucoidan and 30% polyphenol, were assessed in a number of in vitro assays to measure the effect of the extracts on enzyme inhibition, glycation, antioxidant activity and Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) protein expression. Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies were also conducted to measure soothing, protection, wrinkle depth, brightness and skin spot intensity. Both extracts demonstrated marked inhibitory effects on processes linked to skin aging, including the increased expression of SIRT1 in vitro. Clinical testing established the efficacy of the extracts in a range of the tested applications, relative to placebo. The Fucus vesiculosus extract with high polyphenol content demonstrated additional in vitro antioxidant activity, as well as improved efficacy in skin brightening applications, relative to placebo. The major effects of the Undaria pinnatifida extract aided skin immunity, soothing and protection, while the Fucus vesiculosus extract most significantly affected age spot reduction and increased brightness, soothing and protection.
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Cosmetics 2015, 2, 66-81; doi:10.3390/cosmetics2020066
cosmetics
ISSN 2079-9284
www.mdpi.com/journal/cosmetics
Article
Topical Benefits of Two Fucoidan-Rich Extracts from
Marine Macroalgae
J. Helen Fitton 1,*, Giorgio Dell’Acqua 2, Vicki-Anne Gardiner 1, Samuel S. Karpiniec 1,
Damien N. Stringer 1 and Emma Davis 1
1 Marinova Pty Ltd., 249 Kennedy Drive, Cambridge, Tasmania 7170, Australia;
E-Mails: info@marinova.com.au (V.-A.G.); sam.karpiniec@marinova.com.au (S.S.K.);
damien.stringer@marinova.com.au (D.N.S.); emma.davis@marinova.com.au (E.D.)
2 Dellacqua Consulting LLC, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA; E-Mail: giorgio_dellacqua@hotmail.com
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: helen.fitton@marinova.com.au;
Tel.: +61-3-6248-5800; Fax: +61-3-6248-4062.
Academic Editor: Enzo Berardesca
Received: 4 March 2015 / Accepted: 2 April 2015 / Published: 16 April 2015
Abstract: Two concentrated and well-characterized fucoidan-rich extracts were
investigated to determine their benefits in topical applications. An Undaria pinnatifida
extract, containing 85% fucoidan, and a Fucus vesiculosus co-extract, containing 60%
fucoidan and 30% polyphenol, were assessed in a number of in vitro assays to measure the
effect of the extracts on enzyme inhibition, glycation, antioxidant activity and Sirtuin 1
(SIRT1) protein expression. Double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies were also
conducted to measure soothing, protection, wrinkle depth, brightness and skin spot
intensity. Both extracts demonstrated marked inhibitory effects on processes linked to skin
aging, including the increased expression of SIRT1 in vitro. Clinical testing established the
efficacy of the extracts in a range of the tested applications, relative to placebo.
The Fucus vesiculosus extract with high polyphenol content demonstrated additional
in vitro antioxidant activity, as well as improved efficacy in skin brightening applications,
relative to placebo. The major effects of the Undaria pinnatifida extract aided skin
immunity, soothing and protection, while the Fucus vesiculosus extract most significantly
affected age spot reduction and increased brightness, soothing and protection.
OPEN ACCESS
Cosmetics 2015, 2 67
Keywords: fucoidan; cell culture; skin physiology/structure; genetic analysis;
polyphloroglucinol; superoxide; brightness; age spots
1. Introduction
Marine macroalgae contain a variety of polysaccharides for both structural and protective functions.
The polysaccharide, “fucoidan”, and the marine polyphenols, “polyphloroglucinols”, are molecules
produced by macroalgae in order to protect themselves from high UV conditions, from predation and
against attack by marine pathogens. Fucoidans are fucose-rich sulfated polysaccharides found only in
brown macroalgae (Phaeophyceae) and echinoderms. These polysaccharides differ in their sugar
backbone composition, structure and sulfation patterns according to the species of origin and the
extraction techniques used. Undaria pinnatifida yields a fucoidan with a high proportion of galactose
in the backbone that, in addition to sulfate groups, is also extensively acetylated. Fucus vesiculosus
yields a fucoidan with a predominance of fucose in the sugar backbone, and little acetylation.
Both fucoidans are highly branched and heterodisperse.
In previous studies, fucoidans have displayed bioactivity in several areas [1]. They have a
heparin-like anticoagulant activity, inhibit selectin function, inhibit viral entry to cells, and appear to
be immunomodulatory. Fucoidans from different species have been shown to inhibit Ultra-violet
(UV)-induced matrix metalloprotease (MMP) expression in vitro [2–4]. Senni showed that fucoidans
are extensive inhibitors of matrix metalloproteases, while fucoidan (or fucoidan-containing) extracts
from Fucus vesiculosus and Ascophyllum nodosum have been shown to inhibit elastase [5,6]. Topical
Undaria pinnatifida fucoidan was as effective as a topical steroid cream when applied to atopic
dermatitis in a mouse model [7], and while the mechanism for this effect is uncertain, the result
demonstrates that fucoidan is clearly promising as a therapeutic target, especially given the side effects
of longer term topical steroid use.
Polyphloroglucinols have been shown to have a marked protective effect on UV damage models
in vivo [8]. Polyphenols in general are also tyrosinase [9] and elastase [6] inhibitory substances and are
known to have antioxidant [10] effects. Free radicals in the skin—generated by sun exposure, chemical
exposure and normal skin aging processes—have been shown to strongly affect skin aging [11].
As such, topical inhibitors of free radical action show promise as cosmetic ingredients.
Extracts from marine macroalgae often comprise “whole plant extracts” with unknown quantities of
active ingredients, which can thus make identifying the cause of their functionality a difficult task.
In this paper we used in vitro and clinical studies to investigate two specific, well-characterized
macroalgal extracts—with high concentrations of fucoidan and marine polyphenols—to assess their
efficacy as topical cosmetic ingredients. These concentrated extracts are derived from the annual
macroalgae Undaria pinnatifida (Undaria pinnatifida extract, containing 85% fucoidan), and from
Fucus vesiculosus (Fucus vesiculosus extract, containing a co-extract of 60% fucoidan and
30% polyphloroglucinol).
Cosmetics 2015, 2 68
2. Experimental Section
The two macroalgal extracts used in the experiments described in this paper were produced by
Marinova Pty Ltd. (Tasmania, Australia), and specific properties are described in Table 1. Both
products were assessed for phototoxicity (n = 50) and photoallergenicity (n = 10) in human clinical
studies. Neither product was a primary sensitizer or phototoxic (see Supplementary Materials 1).
Table 1. Description of Fucus vesiculosus extract and Undaria pinnatifida extract.
Fucoidan Extract Neutral Carbohydrates Sulfate Cations (approx.) Fucoidan Polyphenol
Fucus vesiculosus
Extract 43.7% 10.1% 3% 58.6% 33.7%
Undaria pinnatifida
Extract 48.8% 27.4% 9% 89.6% <2%
2.1. Enzyme Inhibition Assays
2.1.1. Elastase
Human neutrophil elastase inhibitory activity was assessed using the method of Lee [12]. Enzyme
activity was measured using [N-Succ-(Ala)3-p-nitroanilide] as the substrate, and the release of
p-nitroaniline was monitored spectrophotometrically at 410 nm, in the presence of macroalgal extracts.
2.1.2. Collagenase
Collagenase inhibitory activity was assessed using a fluorescein-conjugated collagen type 1
substrate. Bacterial collagenase (Sigma-Aldrich, St. Louis, MO, USA) was used to digest the substrate,
and the resulting fluorescent signal was used to assess the rate of the reaction in the presence of
inhibitory extracts.
2.1.3. Tyrosinase
Mushroom tyrosinase inhibitory activity was assessed in the 5,6-Dioxo-2,3,5,6-tetrahydro-1H-
indole-2-carboxylic acid dopachrome assay, according to methods described by Fling [13] and as
modified by Kang [9]. In brief, L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) was used as a substrate for
tyrosinase. The dopachrome-colored reaction product was then quantified spectrophotometrically at
550 nm.
2.2. Glycation Inhibition Assay
The glycation inhibition assay is based on a modification of the methods of Kiho [14] and
Choi [15]. Bovine serum albumin, fructose and either a standard inhibitor of glycation, or the
macroalgal extracts were used. The positive standard inhibitor was amino-guanidine. Glass vials in
triplicate were sealed and incubated for seven days in the dark at 37 °C. Autofluorescence of the
glycated protein was measured on a plate reader (excitation 370 nm, emission 440 nm).
Cosmetics 2015, 2 69
2.3. Free Radical Inhibition: The ORAC5.0 Test
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) assays are acknowledged methods that measure
antioxidant scavenging activity against oxygen radicals that are known to be involved in the
pathogenesis of aging and many common diseases. ORAC5.0 consists of five types of ORAC assays
that evaluate the antioxidant capacity of a material against five primary reactive oxygen species
(ROSs, commonly called “oxygen radicals”) found in humans: peroxyl radical, hydroxyl radical,
superoxide anion, singlet oxygen, and peroxynitrite. In brief, a fluorescent signal decay is monitored
after exposure to the radicals. Peroxyl radicals are generated by Azobis(2-amidinopropane)
dihydrochloride, hydroethidine was used as a probe in measuring superoxide scavenging capacity and
also to measure the singlet oxygen. Peroxynitrite activity was measured by oxidation of the dye
dihydrorhodamine 123. These methods are described by Mullen et al. [16]. Fucus vesiculosus extract
was assessed in this assay. Trolox, a water-soluble form of vitamin E, was used as the reference
standard, and the results are expressed as μmole Trolox equivalency per gram (or milliliter) of extract.
2.4. UV Absorbance Range
Both extracts were assessed for UV absorbance from 200 to 800 nm at a concentration of 0.1% w/v
in water, using an HP8452A spectrophotometer (Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA, USA). This allowed
for assessment of the UV-absorbance properties of each compound over the UV ranges important to
human health: UVC (100–280 nm), UVB (280–315 nm), and UVA (315–400 nm).
2.5. Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) Protein Expression
MiaPaCa-2 cells (human pancreas epithelial cell line, ATCC# CRL-1420) were pre-treated with or
without the presence of testing samples. After treatment, the lysed cells were assayed using antibodies
for human Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) protein, with a horseradish peroxidase (HRP)-conjugated secondary
detector antibody and 3,3',5,5'-tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) substrate to react with bound HRP.
The expression level of SIRT1 in cell lysate was then monitored via optical investigation of the
reaction mix. SIRT1 expression levels of human cells treated with and without test materials were
compared, and the maximum percentage of SIRT1 expression change was reported. The concentration
that induced the maximum percentage of the SIRT1 expression change was also noted [17].
2.6. Gene Expression in Skin Models
Ten-day-old reconstructed human epidermis was topically treated (or not) with the test compound
and incubated for 24 h. In this method, normal human keratinocytes are cultured at high cell density in
serum-free and high calcium (1.5 mM) media on an inert polycarbonate filter at the air–liquid interface.
The stratified cultures are histologically similar to those observed in vivo in the epidermis [18].
Each sample was replicated (n = 2). After incubation, cells were retreated with the test compound and
irradiated with UVB at 500 mJ/cm2, +UVA at 6.98 J/cm2, using a SOL500 sun simulator equipped
with an H2 filter (Dr. Hönle AG, München, Germany). After irradiation, the cells were topically
retreated with the test compound and incubated for 4 or 24 h. At the end of the incubation, all cells
were washed in phosphate-buffered saline and frozen at 80 °C.
Cosmetics 2015, 2 70
The modulation of gene expression related to inflammation was evaluated using a UV irradiated
reconstructed human epidermis. After extraction of RNA, complementary DNA was synthesized using
reverse transcriptase. RT-qPCR extracted mRNA was analyzed on a dedicated PCR array
(mQPA-INFLAMM-TISSUE-64) containing 64 target genes including three house-keeping genes.
The threshold for stimulation to be determined is >150% of control (slight stimulation), >200%
(stimulation), >300% (strong stimulation). Similarly, inhibition was determined at >30% (inhibition)
or >50% (strong inhibition). Undaria pinnatifida extract was assessed in this assay at concentrations of
30 and 100 μg/mL.
2.7. Clinical Test Protection and Soothing
Twenty-five Caucasian subjects participated in a placebo-controlled study to assess the ability of a
0.3% w/v gel formulation (see Supplementary Materials 2 for formulation) to protect from and soothe
damage caused by UV irradiation from a solar simulator (Farcoderm, San Martino Siccomario, Italy)
at 1.25× the minimal erythemal dose (MED). The MED (the lowest energy quantity of UVA + UVB
radiation causing a slight but well-defined erythema) was previously evaluated for each volunteer.
Damage was assessed by measuring erythema and transepithelial water loss (TEWL) at various time
points after irradiation. The evaluation of erythema was performed by a MEXAMETER® MX 18
(Courage + Khazaka electronic GmbH, Köln, Germany). TEWL was assessed by a Tewameter 300R
(Courage + Khazaka electronic GmbH). Formulations containing extracts or placebo were applied
either before and after, or only after, exposure to a UV source according to several defined protocols
(Table 2). The quantity of the formulation applied by hand on the skin site was equal to 2 mg/cm2.
The protective effect was calculated as the decrease of the damage (skin erythema or TEWL) induced
by UV exposure (vs. control area, untreated). The soothing effect was calculated as the decrease of the
damage (skin erythema or TEWL) induced by UV exposure (vs. the respective T0). The study was
carried out under a dermatologist’s supervision, in agreement with the ethical principles for medical
research (Helsinki Declaration and successive amendments).
Table 2. Study schemes and sampling schedules for clinical protection and soothing.
Study Scheme 1 Study Scheme 2 Study Scheme 3
Pre-treatment (30 min before UV
exposure) + UV exposure (1.25× MED)
+ Treatment 20 ± 4 h after UV exposure
Pre-treatment (30 min before UV
exposure) + UV exposure (1.25× MED)
+ Treatment soon after UV exposure
UV exposure (1.25× MED) +
Treatment 20 ± 4 h after
UV exposure
Sampling Schedule 1 Sampling Schedule 2 Sampling Schedule 3
T(1): before pre-treatment,
normal skin
T(1): before the pre-treatment,
normal skin
T(1): before UV exposure,
normal skin
T(1, pr): 30 min after
pre-treatment before UV exposure
T(1, pr): 30 min after pre-treatment
before UV exposure
T0: 20 ± 4 h after UV exposure T24h: 24 h after both product application
and UV exposure T0: 20 ± 4 h after UV exposure
T1h: 1 h after product application T1h: 1 h after product application
T2h: 2 h after product application T2h: 2 h after product application
T24h: 24 h after product application T48h: 48 h after product application and
UV exposure
T24h: 24 h after product
application
Cosmetics 2015, 2 71
2.8. Clinical Test on Fucus vesiculosus Extract for Age Spots, Brightness and Wrinkles
A double-blind placebo-controlled hemi-face study was carried out over 60 days on twenty
Caucasian subjects using a 0.3% w/v cream formulation containing Fucus vesiculosus extract and a
placebo formulation (see Supplementary Materials 2 for formulation). The subjects were instructed to
apply the preparations in the morning and at night, on perfectly cleaned face skin, applying “product
A” to a hemi-face and “product B” to the contralateral one following the study randomization scheme.
Participants were also instructed to clean hands before each product application.
Subjects were assessed at 15, 30 and 60 days for brightness (gloss), wrinkle depth, and the melanin
index of an age spot. Non-invasive instrumentation was used by a trained operator to assess skin
parameters on each side of the face on each visit. To assess brightness, gloss value was evaluated by
means of a CM-700d spectrophotometer/colorimeter (Konica Minolta, Tokyo, Japan). Eye contour
wrinkles were quantitatively assessed by Primos 3D (GFMesstechnik GmbH, Teltow, Germany).
The evaluation of melanin index on skin spots was performed by a MEXAMETER® MX 18
(Courage + Khazaka electronic GmbH) probe. In addition, a dermatologist assessed the subjects at
each visit, and scored the appearance of the skin with regard to each parameter. Subject cream
application schedules were randomized using Efron’s biased coins method. A normality test (Shapiro
Wilk) was conducted on all the data. Once the normality of data was accepted, the inter-group
comparisons were performed by Student’s t-test.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Enzyme Inhibition Assay
3.1.1. Elastase
Both Fucus vesiculosus extract and Undaria pinnatifida extract were effective elastase inhibitors at
half-maximal inhibitory concentrations of less than 100 μg/mL (Table 3).
3.1.2. Collagenase
Both Fucus vesiculosus extract and Undaria pinnatifida extract were effective collagenase
inhibitors as illustrated in Table 3.
3.1.3. Tyrosinase
The Fucus vesiculosus extract was a highly effective inhibitor of tyrosinase at a half-maximal
inhibitory concentration of less than 50 μg/mL, and was also significantly more active than the
Undaria pinnatifida extract, as illustrated in Table 3.
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Table 3. Extract elastase, tyrosinase and collagenase inhibition results (percent inhibition).
Extract Elastase
Inhibition
Elastase
Inhibition EC50
Tyrosinase
Inhibition
Tyrosinase
Inhibition EC50 Collagenase Collagenase
IC50
Fucus vesiculosus
extract
99% at
0.1 mg/mL 76 μg/mL 99% at
0.02 mg/mL 33 μg/mL 99% at
0.1 mg/mL 60 μg/mL
Undaria pinnatifida
extract
99% at
0.1 mg/mL 68 μg/mL 5% at
1 mg/mL n/a 99% at
0.1 mg/mL 55 μg/mL
3.2. Glycation Inhibition Assay
Both the Fucus vesiculosus and Undaria pinnatifida extracts were effective inhibitors of glycation
as illustrated in Table 4.
Table 4. Extract glycation inhibition results (percent inhibition).
Compound Concentration Glycation Inhibition
Fucus vesiculosus extract 0.1 mg/mL 31%
0.2 mg/mL 45%
Undaria pinnatifida extract 0.1 mg/mL 33%
0.2 mg/mL 50%
Aminoguanidine 0.1 mg/mL 24%
0.2 mg/mL 50%
3.3. Free Radical Inhibition: The ORAC5.0 Test
The ORAC5.0 assay results demonstrated the high free radical inhibition capability of the
Fucus vesiculosus extract—with a particularly high antioxidant power noted against superoxide
anion —as illustrated in Table 5. Antioxidant capacity is expressed in terms of Trolox Equivalents
(TE) per gram.
Table 5. ORAC5.0 assay results for Fucus vesiculosus extract.
Free Radical Type Antioxidant Power Result (μmol TE/g)
Peroxyl 1,144
Hydroxyl 1,955
Peroxynitrite 138
Superoxide 23,025
Singlet oxygen 925
Total 27,187
3.4. UV Absorbance Range
The obtained spectra (Figure 1) showed the Fucus vesiculosus extract to exhibit a more superior
absorptivity than the Undaria pinnatifida extract, and over a greater range of wavelengths extending
into the UVB and UVA regions.
Cosmetics 2015, 2 73
Figure 1. Ultraviolet (UV)-Vis absorbance spectra of macroalgal extracts at 0.1% w/v.
3.5. SIRT1 Protein Expression
The maximum increase in SIRT1 expression and the effective concentrations at which this was
achieved are noted in Table 6. Both extracts increased the expression of the SIRT1 protein in vitro,
with the Fucus vesiculosus extract demonstrating the greatest expression change.
Table 6. Maximum increase in SIRT1 expression (percent change).
Extract Maximum SIRT1 Expression Change Effective Concentration
Fucus vesiculosus 32.4% 4.9 μg/mL
Undaria pinnatifida 28.8% 14.8 μg/mL
3.6. Gene Expression in a Skin Substitute
The results are summarized in Table 7. Genes for Toll-like receptors 2 and 3 were strongly
activated, at 387% and 229% respectively.
There was a large increase in the expression of wound-healing genes for the main matrix
metalloproteases: at four hours, gene expression in skin treated with the Undaria pinnatifida extract
was more than doubled as compared to the control, showing an enhanced wound-healing signal.
One enzyme gene was inhibited (MMP14).
Table 7. QPA-INFLAM-TiSSUE-64 model. Summary of Undaria pinnatifida extract on
gene expression profile of UVB and UVA irradiated reconstructed human epidermis.
Irradiation at 500 mL/cm2. (percent change versus irradiated control, after 4 h of exposure).
Category Genes 30 μg/mL 100 μg/mL
Antimicrobial peptide, innate immunity TLR2 134 387
TLR3 99 229
Inflammatory cytokine IL6 <50 <50
Extra cellular matrix enzymes
MMP1 157 202
MMP3 151 233
MMP9 183 226
MMP14 27 31
VEGFA 50 71
Cosmetics 2015, 2 74
3.7. Clinical Test Protection and Soothing
Both extracts were proven to be clinically effective soothing and protecting agents with significant
reduction in erythema and TEWL as compared to placebo and control. In Study Scheme 1,
the products were applied before UV exposure and then again, after 24 h (Table 2). The relative
protective and soothing effects are expressed in Tables 8 and 9 for cream preparations of the
Fucus vesiculosus and Undaria pinnatifida extracts. Out of the three study schemes, this first scheme
of application generated the most protection; however, the other two schemes (application before and
soon after exposure, or only after exposure) also markedly decreased TEWL and erythema.
Table 8. Transepithelial water loss after application of placebo or active cream,
as compared to control (Study Scheme 1); n = 25 (percent change of mean vs. control).
Product T0 (%) T1h (%) T2h (%) T24h (%)
Fucus vesiculosus extract 7.9 21.9 22.1 18.3
Undaria pinnatifida extract 7.3 19.8 19.6 17.1
Placebo 1.6 8.0 7.6 2.6
Table 9. Erythema after application of placebo or active cream, as compared to control
(Study Scheme 1); n = 25 (percent change of mean vs. control).
Product T0 (%) T1h (%) T2h (%) T24h (%)
Fucus vesiculosus extract 10.6 21.6 22.6 14.7
Undaria pinnatifida extract 9.0 18.5 19.6 12.1
Placebo 1.4 2.2 2.0 0.2
Statistical analysis was performed by way of t-testing for paired samples, to compare both
Undaria pinnatifida and Fucus vesiculosus extracts to the placebo and control data sets in Study
Scheme 1, for both TEWL and erythema. Significant differences were found between the fucoidan
extracts and the placebo against control tests in all cases, as summarized in Table 10.
Table 10. Significant differences between data sets for Study Scheme 1 (Student’s t-test
for paired data).
Extract TEWL % Erythema %
Control Placebo Control Placebo
Fucus vesiculosus extract p < 0.001 p < 0.002 p < 0.001 p < 0.001
Undaria pinnatifida extract p < 0.001 p < 0.002 p < 0.001 p < 0.001
The data from Study Schemes 2 and 3 showed that both extracts were protective and soothing as
summarized in Tables 11 and 12, respectively. These observations were statistically significant with
regard to both placebo and control (t-test for paired data, p < 0.05). The relative protective and
soothing effects on erythema and TEWL were slightly greater for the Fucus vesiculosus extract than
for the Undaria pinnatifida extract; however, both extracts demonstrated significant protective and
soothing effects.
Cosmetics 2015, 2 75
Table 11. Erythema and TEWL Study Scheme 2, as compared to control (n = 25) (percent
change of mean vs. control).
Extract TEWL % Erythema %
24 h 48 h 24 h 48 h
Fucus vesiculosus 8.4 16.6 10.4 8.9
Undaria pinnatifida 7.7 14.4 10.3 8.1
Placebo 1.2 2.3 1.2 2.5
Table 12. Erythema and TEWL Study Scheme 3, as compared to control (n = 25) (percent
change of mean vs. control).
Extract TEWL % Erythema %
1 h 24 h 1 h 24 h
Fucus vesiculosus 14.9 11.3 11.7 20.7
Undaria pinnatifida 14.0 8.4 9.8 18.2
Placebo 0.4 1.2 0.6 7.9
3.8. Clinical Test of Fucus vesiculosus Extract for Age Spots, Brightness and Wrinkles
Results from the 20 subjects in the double-blind, placebo-controlled, hemi-face study showed that
Fucus vesiculosus extract at 0.3% w/v was an effective cosmetic ingredient for reducing the melanin
index of age spots, increasing brightness and decreasing wrinkles (Figures 2–4). The clinical
evaluation was performed by a dermatologist as described in Section 2.8, with clinical scores assigned
from the following: no variation, slight improvement, moderate improvement, or remarkable
improvement. The percentage of subjects that experienced an improvement, as evaluated by the
dermatologist, is noted in Table 13. According to the clinical analysis, after 60 days of use, 50% of the
volunteers showed an improvement in skin brightness, 65% showed a reduction in skin spot
appearance and 45% showed an improvement in the appearance of wrinkles. Whilst the trial was
terminated at 60 days, the rate of reduction in age spot index and increase in brightness indicates
marked trends. Intergroup analysis was performed by way of the Wilcoxon signed rank test for
non-parametric data (Figures 2 and 3).
Table 13. Dermatologist clinical analysis of Fucus vesiculosus extract (percentage of
subjects showing an improvement).
Metric Treatment Placebo Treatment Placebo Treatment Placebo
Variation vs. T0 T15 days T15 days T30 days T30 days T60 days T60 days
Wrinkle evaluation 10% 0 30% 0 45% 5%
Reduction of skin
spot appearance 0 0 40% 0 65% 0
Skin brightness 10% 0 40% 0 50% 0
Cosmetics 2015, 2 76
Figure 2. Clinical test on Fucus vesiculosus extract: age spot intensity over time.
Figure 3. Clinical test on Fucus vesiculosus extract: brightness (gloss) factor, over time.
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
0153060
Melaninindex
Timeindays
Active
Placebo
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
0 0.1 15 30 60
Gloss
Timeindays
Active
Placebo
Cosmetics 2015, 2 77
Figure 4. Clinical test on Fucus vesiculosus extract: wrinkle depth over time.
3.9. Discussion
Despite the popularity of marine algal extracts in cosmetic preparations, little has been reported to
date regarding the specific bioactivity of these extracts. Over the past 20 years, there has been a
growing body of in vitro research on the bioactive properties of fucoidans, and many of these studies
have focused on the potential for fucoidan as a cosmetic ingredient. The key focus of research to date
(including this study) has been to investigate the inhibitory effects of topically applied fucoidan on
aging and photo-damaged skin. In this study, two extracts from two different marine algal sources
were examined. The extracts were highly purified, extensively characterized fucoidan and polyphenol
extracts, with purity accounting for upwards of 85% of the whole extracts. The purities were verified
analytically, confirming the removal of many undesired components, such as salts and iodine.
The stimulation of skin matrix enzymes, including collagenase and elastase, is a key aspect of skin
aging [11]. It is thought that the accumulation of degraded collagen fibrils prevents new tissue
formation and causes further skin degradation by inducing further enzyme activity in a “positive
feedback loop”. Lessening such enzyme activity may assist in the reduction of skin degradation and
promote the formation of new matrix. Skin care applications for fucoidan as an immune regulator and
as a soothing ingredient have been established in this study, with the Undaria pinnatifida extract.
In this study, inhibition of collagenase (bacterial) and elastase (human neutrophil) by the
Undaria pinnatifida extract in vitro was noted. Although it is not possible to directly infer effects from
in vitro studies, early clinical observations demonstrated improvements in skin.
Further in vitro data for anti-aging applications for Undaria pinnatifida extract reported here
includes SIRT1 protein expression; changes in the gene expression profile of UV irradiated
reconstructed human epidermis and inhibition of glycation, a marker for aging skin. Increasing the
levels of SIRT1 can mimic the benefits of caloric restriction, enhancing sugar and lipid metabolism,
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
0 0.1 15 30 60
Gloss
Timeindays
Active
Placebo
Cosmetics 2015, 2 78
and maintaining a younger physiology [19,20]. Sirtuins are expressed in human skin, and play complex
roles in cellular metabolism [19]. In the skin, SIRT1 levels are depressed by UV irradiation and
oxidative damage and, in other studies, SIRT1 stimulating extracts have also been effective in
addressing skin aging [21]. Although it is not possible to directly extrapolate from in vitro studies,
increasing the levels of SIRT1 may assist in maintaining skin function, by reversing the effects of
external factors. Whilst we demonstrated that SIRT1 protein levels were increased in vitro by both
extracts, the gene expression of SIRT1 was not assessed in the reconstructed epidermis analysis
described in this paper. This would clearly be a valuable marker in future studies of either
Undaria pinnatifida extract or Fucus vesiculosus extract.
The role of fucoidan in UV protection may be explained by in vitro observations of the activation of
Toll-like receptors (genes associated with the expression of antimicrobial peptides that are critical to
innate immunity). Genes for Toll-like receptors 2 and 3 were strongly activated, at 387% and 229%,
respectively. There was a large increase in the expression of wound-healing genes for the main matrix
metalloproteases: at four hours, gene expression in skin treated with the Undaria pinnatifida extract
was more than doubled as compared to control, showing an enhanced wound-healing signal.
The stimulation of Toll-like receptors by other types of fucoidan has been demonstrated in cell
culture [22]. The increased expression of extracellular matrix enzyme genes in vitro by the
Undaria pinnatifida extract may be indicative of the ability of the extract to enhance the early
wound-healing response, and then modulate that response. In addition, the decreased level of gene
expression for IL6 in vitro is noteworthy, with potential relevance to psoriasis [23]. The “quick
response” defense activity may be cosmetically useful for enhancing dermal protection.
The polyphenol-rich Fucus vesiculosus extract was assessed in the ORAC5.0 assay, and
demonstrated a marked total antioxidant value, with particular emphasis on inhibition of the
superoxide free radical. Superoxide can be considered to be a precursor of the other free radicals,
and this activity is useful in terms of topical cosmetic use as it can prevent environmental direct
oxidative damage at the skin surface. Superoxide is not the strongest oxidant, as the hydroxyl radical is
much more reactive [24]; however, superoxide is highly toxic to cells, and contributes to lipid and
DNA damage. Antioxidants that scavenge superoxide ions help to prevent the formation of radicals
such as hydrogen peroxide and the highly reactive hydroxyl species, thus preventing further tissue
damage [11]. The polyphenol component of this extract may also be responsible for a higher
expression of the SIRT1 protein in vitro, in comparison to the Undaria pinnatifida extract.
In clinical applications, the Fucus vesiculosus extract exerted slightly superior soothing and
protection results against UV damage when compared to the Undaria pinnatifida extract. In vitro
measurements showed that the Fucus vesiculosus extract absorbed UV radiation in the skin-damaging
UVA and UVB ranges, whereas the Undaria pinnatifida extract did not. In vitro testing demonstrated
similar inhibition of the skin matrix enzyme human neutrophil elastase by both extracts; however,
unlike the Undaria pinnatifida extract, Fucus vesiculosus extract was a highly effective inhibitor of
mushroom tyrosinase as well as a highly effective antioxidant. As the tyrosinase examined in this study
was mushroom-derived, it is not a directly comparable reflection of mammalian enzyme activity [25],
but, nonetheless, provides indicative data.
Recently, a tyrosinase inhibitory fucoidan was isolated from kelp [26], with an apparent
half-maximal inhibitory concentration of about 1 mg/mL. This is considerably higher than the
Cosmetics 2015, 2 79
inhibitory concentrations observed here, which is likely attributable to the polyphenol content of the
Fucus vesiculosus extract used in this study. Kang et al. isolated polyphloroglucinols from
Ecklonia stolonifera [9] with half-maximal inhibitory values in the μg/mL range, closer to the values
observed in this study. Another research group noted fucoidan-reversible inhibition of tyrosinase,
which was related to copper binding sites [27]. Clinical examination of the Fucus vesiculosus extract
used here verified the skin brightening potential and age spot pigmentation reduction. It is not possible
to directly infer that tyrosinase inhibition is taking place, as the other activities of the extract, such as
antioxidative, SIRT1 increasing, or other unknown effects may have resulted in the clinical
observations. The small reduction in wrinkle depth of 6% compared to a 2% decrease for the placebo
may also be a result of inhibition of oxidative damage. It is possible that absorbance of the fucoidan
into the surface of the skin occurred and that this contributed to the small anti-wrinkle effect;
however, absorbance measurement was not within the scope of this study.
4. Conclusions
The results show the topical benefits of two well-characterized fucoidan-rich macroalgal extracts
derived from Undaria pinnatifida and Fucus vesiculosus. Both extracts demonstrated marked
inhibitory in vitro effects on enzymes related to skin aging and the non-enzymatic glycation process.
Clinical testing established the efficacy of these extracts in a range of applications including soothing,
protection from UV rays, and wrinkle depth reduction. The Fucus vesiculosus extract with high
polyphenol content demonstrated additional efficacy in antioxidant and skin brightening applications.
Acknowledgments
The authors are employed by Marinova Pty Ltd. with the exception of Giorgio Dell’Acqua who
provided scientific direction. Funding and materials were provided by Marinova Pty Ltd. located at
Cambridge, Tasmania, Australia.
Author Contributions
J. Helen Fitton, Giorgio Dell’Acqua and Vicki-Anne Gardiner contributed scientific direction.
Samuel S. Karpiniec performed characterization of the extracts and contributed to the manuscript
preparation. Damien N. Stringer provided scientific direction and performed characterization of the
extracts. Emma Davis provided scientific direction and contributed to manuscript preparation.
Supplementary Information
Supplementary Information can be accessed at http://www.mdpi.com/ 2079-9284/2/2/0066/s1.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors, with the exception of Giorgio Dell’Acqua, are employed by Marinova Pty Ltd.
Cosmetics 2015, 2 80
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© 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article
distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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