Research Article|Articles in Press

Increased production of natural moisturizing factors and bleomycin hydrolase activity in elderly human skin


      • The activity of BH were higher in the elderly skin than in young.
      • NMF amino acids were significantly higher in the elderly skin than in young.
      • SC hydration and TEWL were significantly lower in elderly skin, indicating dry skin.
      • ・Increased production of BH may be a compensatory mechanisms against dry skin.



      Bleomycin hydrolase (BH), which is expressed in the stratum granulosum and lower stratum corneum (SC), is involved in final filaggrin degradation. Furthermore, BH plays an essential role in producing free amino acids, which constitute the majority of natural moisturizing factors (NMF). However, the effects of BH expression and protease activity on human skin aging remain unclear.


      This study was designed to evaluate the activity and expression patterns of BH in SC extracts from healthy young and elderly individuals.


      SC samples were collected by tape stripping. BH activity was assessed by measuring the citrulline aminopeptidase activity. BH expression was determined by Western blotting, and NMF was quantified by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Skin barrier function was determined by measuring SC hydration, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and skin pH.


      The activity and expression of BH were higher in the elderly skin than in young skin, and BH activity was correlated with BH expression levels. Evaluation of the NMF showed that the levels of total amino acids, such as glycine, serine, aspartic acid, citrulline, pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (a metabolite of glutamic acid), and trans-urocanic acid (a metabolite of histidine), were significantly higher in elderly skin than in young skin. Moreover, SC hydration and TEWL were significantly lower in elderly, indicating dry skin, and pH was significantly higher in elderly, indicating greater skin alkalinization.


      These results suggest that BH activity and expression, as well as NMF amino acids, increase in elderly people as compensatory mechanisms against dry skin.


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