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Skin Deep is a blog for dermatologists and skin care professionals with focus on theoretical, cosmetic and aesthetic dermatology. This blog is associated with ‘Dermatologists Sans Borders’ one of the largest curated groups of skin care professionals on facebook. If you are looking for non-technical information, please visit

3 villains in the peptide story - Part 2

Prologue: The dermis has fibrillar components called Collagen and Elastin embedded in an Extracellular matrix composed of Glicosamino glycans (GAG), hyaluronic acid being the most important (and popular). There are synthetic and degradation pathways for collagen like most other proteins in the body. The synthetic pathway leads to the fountain of youth. 

Julian Voss-Andreae's sculpture Unravelling Co...
Julian Voss-Andreae's sculpture Unravelling Collagen (2005), stainless steel, height 11 ft 3 in (3.40 m). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So here is the story: Peptides similar in composition to collagen resemble collagen degradation fragments. When these peptides are introduced into the skin, they trick the body into believing that the degradation pathway is active. To compensate, the synthetic pathway is activated by the body and Voila, you are young again!

Penetration (Photo credit: Man Alive!)
There are 3 villains in this story. The first one is Mr Stability. The peptides are not very stable in their base formula. Mr Penetration makes the passing of these peptides across the stratum corneum difficult. The third and the most lethal one Mr Destroyer, dismantles these peptides into amino acids as soon as they penetrate. So reaching the bounty of youth is not so easy as it seems.

The hero is bound to have strong and muscular brothers in Hindi cinema, who will come together in the end because they share the same tattoo or sing the same song. Likewise if you set out to find Tetra or Pentapeptides similar to collagen, you have millions of them. So how does the director find the hero from a million possible heros?

Hey, don’t ask questions now. You shall know the entire plot of the story towards the end.

To cut a long story short our hero is called Pal-KTTKS known as Matrixyl to 'aam janta'. He is in love with the beautiful GAG Hyaluronic Acid (HA). But tragedy strikes!  HA belongs to a different religion! Unlike other GAGs, HA is not even a peptidoglycan. She is just a polysaccharide with no peptide in her!

I have to take a commercial break here. Will be back again soon.

Read the full series here.

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About Me

As a Dermatologist and Informatician my research mainly involves application of bioinformatics techniques and tools in dermatological conditions. However my research interests are varied and I have publications in areas ranging from artificial intelligence, sequence analysis, systems biology, ontology development, microarray analysis, immunology, computational biology and clinical dermatology. I am also interested in eHealth, Health Informatics and Health Policy.


Bell Raj Eapen
Hamilton, ON