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A combination of factors affects skin functionality and appearance. Internal factors modulate the expression of key genes involved in skin homeostasis. Such intrinsic aging is genetically regulated and follows a chronological clock inside of cells, whereas environmental factors are responsible for actinic aging. Together, these factors target important metabolic pathways in skin cells that trigger the signs of aging, such as skin roughness and loss of biomechanical properties. At the molecular level, collagen synthesis is reduced in aging skin cells and cells damaged by UV radiation.1 The expression of collagen-degrading matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) is upregulated in aged cells and cells exposed to UV, infrared radiation or excessive heat.2, 3 Also, reactive oxygen species are implicated in the deleterious effects of aging.1, 4 In an effort to develop a natural active to address these skin aging issues, the efficacy of Hesperomeles heterophylla leaf extract was studied as a novel natural source for anti-aging actives that provide multiple skin benefits, as described in this paper.
For the past five million years, the Andes Mountains in South America lifted, eventually settling and creating the Andean forests—and on the top of these, the páramo and subpáramo ecosystems.5, 6 These ecosystems are located discontinuously from altitudes of approximately 2,500 m to the line of perpetual snow, at about 5,000 m. The lower density of the atmospheric layer at these high altitudes allows for greater UV radiation intensities as well as greater dissipation of light energy. In relation, one of the most important research fields in Latin America is the scientific validation of traditional knowledge for the use of biodiversity and its applications.7
Based on this information, the species H. heterophylla Hook was selected to evaluate its effects as an anti-aging active. Hesperomeles is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the family Rosaceae. H. heterophylla grows in the subpáramo and páramo ecosystems at 2,500–3,500 m and has adaptations that allow it to survive in this fairly hostile environment. For example, it has adapted to daily seasonality, cold, low air pressure and low water availability.
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