What is the protein Elastin?

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No one stays at the same weight throughout their life. Sometimes we gain weight and sometimes we lose and become thinner. But even during these changes our skin never tears off. Rather it adjusts to this stretching without much trouble. This shows that our skin has elastic property which helps it stretch or contract beyond the normal levels. The component which gives this property to our skin is called as Elastin.


What is Elastin?

Elastin is a type of protein present in the body that gives the property of elasticity to our skin. It is due to elastin that our skin remains tight and has the capacity to come to normal shape even after being stretched. With age the elastin component in our body gets reduced and hence the wrinkles and sagging skin problems step in. Elastin is at its helm during the teenage and as we reach adulthood, its percentage in our body starts declining. This protein is especially located in the walls of lungs, arteries, intestines and also our skin. It works in harmony with the collagen and helps our body organs to relax even in stretched position. Collagen gives rigidity, whereas elastin provide our blood vessels as well as heart tissues elasticity to stretch (contract and expand) and come back to the original position. One of the most amazing facts about elastin is that it is not made after we reach the age of 12 or 13. The elastin made up to this age is used by our body throughout the life span.


What is elastin composed of?

This protein component is mainly made up of amino acids- valine, glycine, alanine and proline and is created by fibroblasts which are a type of connective You do not have access to view this node. The capacity of fibroblasts goes on decreasing as we grow older.


What happens if elastin is damaged?

Once our body tissues loose their elasticity, they can never regain it. Elastin property can be reduced or damaged due to various reasons like stress, hormones, smoking etc. It can be also due to aging. As the body and its organs loose elasticity, our body’s functioning is also affected. For example, when blood vessels loose elastin, they cannot stretch properly affecting the efficiency of circulatory system. Elastin is also damaged due to overexposure to sunlight. Elastin damage hence can also cause various diseases due to which scientists are trying to find ways of introducing this component into our body via gene therapy.


Why is elastin used in topical applications?

Applying elastin topically makes our skin look young as it gets moisturized. According to a recent study, avocado extract when used on skin have been found to enhance procollagen in the body. This procollagen is a forerunner of fibers of elastin. But all the elastin products have been found to be of no use in starting the production of elastin in the body.


How safe are these products?

These products use the elastin of cows and bird in the anti aging products. These animals can be exposed to mad cow disease or even avian flu. Although until now, no such infections due to skin products have been reported, the danger still lurks.


What is the latest Theories/Speculation related to elastin?

Some approaches have been made in this regard. Retinoic acid comprising of tretinoin, retin A and renova when observed during a culture study revealed the possibilities of elastin synthesis in embryonic vascular smooth cells of a chick. Hence scientists are of thinking that retinoid if used topically can also stimulate the synthesis of elastin in the skin of human. But no success has been reported in this regard till date.

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