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J Cosmet Sci. 2005 Jan-Feb;56(1):17-27.

L-Ergothioneine scavenges superoxide and singlet oxygen and suppresses TNF-alpha and MMP-1 expression in UV-irradiated human dermal fibroblasts.

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Cosmos Technical Center Co. Ltd., 3-24-3, Hasune, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo, 174-0046, Japan.


Ergothioneine (EGT) is a sulfur-containing amino acid, and is presumed to function as a natural antioxidant. The purpose of this study was to identify the nature of the antioxidant activity and investigate the effects of EGT on UV-induced cellular response. In chemical studies, EGT scavenged the superoxide anion radical (*O(2)(-)) and singlet oxygen ((1)O(2)). In cultured fibroblasts, EGT suppressed TNF-alpha up-regulation by UVB irradiation. In addition, in fibroblasts exposed to UV-A, EGT suppressed the expression of matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP-1) protein by nearly 50% and reduced MMP-1 mRNA expression. From these results, we conclude that EGT scavenges reactive oxygen species generated by both Type I and Type II photosensitization and suppresses both TNF-alpha expression and MMP-1 at their transcriptional level. EGT may reduce skin anti-aging effects after UV irradiation by the scavenging of *O(2)(-) and (1)O(2), and reducing signals for protease and inflammatory activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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