Bioactive peptides are capable of inducing biological responses by stimulating cell surface receptors, inhibiting protein-protein interactions, inducing protein conformational rearrangements, inactivating enzymes, regulating gene expression levels, etc. However, their inherent proteolytic instability, poor transport properties into the bloodstream and across the blood-brain barrier, rapid excretion through the liver and/or kidneys, and reduced efficacy due to inherent structural flexibility make them poor candidates for systemic drug delivery molecules.1
In turn, peptidomimetics, or synthetic bioactive peptides, have been developed that mimic the biological functions of peptides and proteins but overcome many of these challenges and limitations. Further, due to their wide range of activity, synthetic feasibility and ease of handling, they have played a vital part in biological research. This column will discuss the potential application of these short chain oligomers in cosmetics and personal care.
Peptide vs. Peptidomimetic
While the use of bioactive peptides in oral drug delivery applications is still a great challenge, skin-targeted topical applications present unique opportunities. Proteolytic degradation and rapid excretion are less of an issue for the cosmetic application of bioactive peptides. In fact, in the past decade, chemically modified bioactive peptides have been introduced for topical cosmetic applications. Examples include topical palmitoyl pentapeptide, which stimulates collagen production;2 copper tripeptide-1, which promotes wound healing;3 and one synthetic hexapeptide that mimics the action of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs).4