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Skin Therapy Lett. 2015 Nov;20(6):1-5.

Sugar Sag: Glycation and the Role of Diet in Aging Skin.

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Department of Dermatology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.


First described in the context of diabetes, advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed through a type of non-enzymatic reaction called glycation. Increased accumulation of AGEs in human tissue has now been associated with end stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and, recently, skin aging. Characteristic findings of aging skin, including decreased resistance to mechanical stress, impaired wound healing, and distorted dermal vasculature, can be in part attributable to glycation. Multiple factors mediate cutaneous senescence, and these factors are generally characterized as endogenous (e.g., telomere shortening) or exogenous (e.g., ultraviolet radiation exposure). Interestingly, AGEs exert their pathophysiological effects from both endogenous and exogenous routes. The former entails the consumption of sugar in the diet, which then covalently binds an electron from a donor molecule to form an AGE. The latter process mostly refers to the formation of AGEs through cooking. Recent studies have revealed that certain methods of food preparation (i.e., grilling, frying, and roasting) produce much higher levels of AGEs than water-based cooking methods such as boiling and steaming. Moreover, several dietary compounds have emerged as promising candidates for the inhibition of glycation-mediated aging. In this review, we summarize the evidence supporting the critical role of glycation in skin aging and highlight preliminary studies on dietary strategies that may be able to combat this process.

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