Lauder Reveals Metabolomic Insights on Acne, Pollution, Aging and More


Metabolomics is generally defined as the large-scale study of small molecules in the body, known as metabolites, and their biological interactions.

Leveraging this field, The Estée Lauder Companies has uncovered new insights relating to skin. These were presented at the 2019 World Congress of Dermatology (WCD) in Milan, Italy, held June 10-15, as well as during the company's sponsored session, "Metabolomics as a New Diagnostic to Assess Skin Health."

According to the presenters—including Leihong Xiang, M.D., Ph.D., of The Estée Lauder Companies; Paolo Sassone-Corsi, Ph.D., University of California; Kirk Beebe, Ph.D., Metabolon, Inc.; and Nadine Pernodet, Ph.D., of The Estée Lauder Companies—metabolomics illustrate the complex relationship between genetics and the environment, unveiling how both play a role in skin and how their changes reflect skin's condition.

From this foundation, research teams from The Estée Lauder Companies presented the results of several studies at the congress, including:

  • A clearer understanding young and aging skin, and the impact of circadian rhythm changes;
  • The relationship between autophagy and inflammation in skin cells, and the connection between autophagy and the "resolution phase"—a mechanism in the inflammation process that helps to protect against chronic inflammation;
  • The development of a skin model to better understand causes of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) to uncover underlying biological causes;
  • The effects of the natural Macrocystis pyrifera (kelp) ferment to address inflammation and enhancing fibroblast migration—which together, may help skin maintain its natural integrity and a "state of visible calm;"
  • The identification of UP302, a plant-derived tyrosinase enzyme inhibitor, that outperforms kojic acid for skin whitening benefits;
  • The beneficial connection between sirtuins and the integrity of natural cellular activity;
  • Observed changes in skin physiology induced by exposure to small particles (PM 2.5), which could support the development of approaches to protect skin against pollution; and
  • A multi-pronged approach to treat acne and significantly reduce facial lesions after 12 weeks of use.

(See below for expanded details.)

"The Estée Lauder Companies' R&D team is a global leader in understanding the impact of biological processes like those in the skin," said Nadine Pernodet, Ph.D., vice president, skin biology and bioactives, research and development, The Estée Lauder Companies.

"These new findings provide us with an unprecedented snapshot of skin status, enabling new precision approaches and treatments to improve skin's appearance. As the first in our industry to use metabolomics in relation to time, we have a better understanding of key factors of skin repair efficiency and damage accumulation and their relationship to skin circadian rhythm. We will continue to apply this knowledge to formulate products that can address and improve optimal skin processes, leading to younger looking skin."

Following are details of each research paper presented.

The Research

First assessment of skin circadian metabolomics on young and aging subjects, The Estée Lauder Companies and Metabolon, Inc.  

"Metabolomics is a comprehensive study of metabolites, which are small molecule (< 1500 Da) intermediates and products of biochemical reactions. Using metabolomics, the research was able to temporally define the skin metabolome via assessing circadian rhythm dynamics in the human stratum corneum using non-invasive D-squame collection methods. Results indicated a clear natural rhythm of the young skin metabolome.

'As the first in our industry to use metabolomics in relation to time, we have a better understanding of key factors of skin repair efficiency and damage accumulation and their relationship to skin circadian rhythm.' 

"This study provides further understanding of aging skin and defined the temporal human skin metabolome thus showing circadian rhythm-dependent changes in repair and protection processes in human skin. And finally, this is the first study that shows a treatment can help to skin's natural repair as proven through metabolomics."

Autophagy and inflammation relation in skin cells, The Estée Lauder Companies

"Autophagy, a major cellular degradative and recycling pathway, is critical for cellular longevity and has been linked to the aging process. A decrease in autophagy leads to increased cellular damage as we age. For the first time in skin cells, a relationship between autophagy and the resolution phase of inflammation has been found, showing their link in protecting the skin against long-lasting inflammation and its visible effects."

Development of a post inflammatory hyperpigmentation model in reconstructed skins, The Estée Lauder Companies

"Prominently seen in people with darker skin tones, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) occurs following an inflammatory insult, such as acne or a cutaneous injury, and results in a hyperpigmented area of the skin. Little is known about the cause of PIH, but new research using in vitro models offers the chance to screen the skin pigmentation effects of migration inhibitors on melanocytes—offering more options to explore the underlying biological causes.

Macrocystis pyrifera ferment: Anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution properties, The Estée Lauder Companies and Max Huber Research Laboratories

"Research has shown that inflammation, especially chronic inflammation, is a potential cause of accelerated skin aging. The resolution of inflammation is an actively coordinated and dynamic process that attenuates inflammation and enables skin's natural repair and helps skin maintain its natural integrity.

"In this study, the anti-inflammatory and pro-resolution activities of the Macrocystis pyrifera (kelp) ferment were assessed. Results show that the use of the kelp ferment is effective in addressing all three phases of inflammation and in enhancing fibroblast migration. Together, these activities may help skin maintain a state of visible calm and its natural integrity."

Evaluation of a potent skin whitening agent, The Estée Lauder Companies

"UP302, a plant-derived tyrosinase enzyme inhibitor, acts as a whitening agent by preventing melanin synthesis through the conversion of tyrosinase in human skin. Using a clinical whitening test measuring the Skin Lightening Factor, both in vitro and in vivo, against kojic acid (the industry standard), the UP302 treatments demonstrated a more-significant decrease in melanin, indicating a decrease in tyrosinase activity and pigmentation."

Sirtuins and their importance in skin, The Estée Lauder Companies

"Increasing evidence has demonstrated the importance of sirtuins, also known as longevity proteins, in maintaining optimal skin cell processes such as metabolism, genomic stability, inflammation, energy, environmental stress response and aging. The effects of environmental stressors were examined through the response of skin cells to UVB and ozone (measured by the effect on energy (ATP) production and oxidative damage (ROS), along with the effect on mechanical properties).

"This research demonstrates a beneficial link between sirtuins and cellular integrity and activity, and for the first time, introduces the role of Sirtuin-2 in supporting skin cells' natural mechanical properties."

The effect of exposure to PM 2.5 on skin physiological function, The Estée Lauder Companies

"Using an in vitro model, changes in skin physiology induced by exposure to fine particles (PM 2.5) were observed. Results suggested that these particles may be damaging to the epidermis and compromise skin barrier function, as well as impact morphology, physiology, and inflammatory response in cells. Findings showed that skins treated with PM 2.5 had compromised skin barrier integrity and an increase in cellular proteins indicating a possible inflammatory response."

A multi-prong approach to acne significantly reduced facial lesions after a 12-week treatment, The Estée Lauder Companies

"The pathogenesis of acne is complex, with strong evidence supporting the involvement of sebaceous hyperplasia, follicular hyperkeratinization, bacterial hypercolonization and inflammation.

"In order to combat acne and address these components, researchers used a multi-prong formulation to assess its effect on the overall lesion count in a population with acne. Findings showed treatments significantly reduced the total lesion count after 12 weeks."

More in Literature/Data