Glycation, also referred to as non-enzymatic glycosylation, is the chemical reaction of aldehydic groups of reducing sugars with free amino acid groups of proteins. Collagen, elastin, and fibronectin, the structural proteins of the skin, are all susceptible to glycation. The advanced glycation end products (AGEs) produced by this process result in changes to the mechanical properties of skin, discoloration, and loss of radiance.
Most of what we know regarding glycation is the result of research about diabetics, where prolonged high levels of blood sugar can lead to debilitating conditions.
While glycation is part of the natural aging process, it can be sped up by diet, inflammatory events, and UV exposure. Some AGE’s fluoresce allowing for the assessment of glycation using instruments like the Visia Complexion Analysis system from Canfield Scientific.
Glycation Anti-Aging Strategy
While there are many mechanisms involved in skin aging, slowing or reversing glycation presents an interesting approach to anti-aging treatments. Diabetes research and treatments may yield new insights and generate innovative ideas for cosmetic formulation.