As we age, the turnover of human epidermal stem cells begins to slow. Over time, these critical cells function less efficiently. Hindered by a finite number of potential cell divisions, lost and dying cells start to outnumber fresh new cells, and, sooner than later, they culminate in signs of aging.
Plant stem cells, however, have the ability to divide over many generations and the unique capacity to stimulate and protect human stem cells. The results are a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, collagen loss and other common signs of aging.
The most common plant-derived stem cell used in skincare today is the Swiss Uttwiler Spätlauber apple. First cultivated in the 18th century for its hardy, long-lasting fruit, this tannin-rich fruit offers a rich source of anti-aging activity.
By forming small wounds in “explants” of the stem cell tissue, scientists are able to stimulate large cell masses known as calluses, which contain the “unprogrammed” and undifferentiated cells of the plant. It is within these “blank canvases” that exciting, new applications in skincare yield promise, including the ability to increase the longevity of human skin cells and stimulate new ones.
In a Swiss in-house study published in the SOFW Journal in 2008¹, scientists showed that a 0.1% concentration of stem cells extracted from the Uttwiler Spätlauber apple stimulated the proliferation of human stem cells by 80%.
In followup experiments, the scientists irradiated a human stem cell sample with UV light. While nearly half of the cultured stem cells died when exposed to the UV light, the number of living cells grown in the culture containing the apple extract experienced only a small decrease.
Further Swiss studies showed that incubating fibroblast cells — the building blocks of collagen and other skin structural tissue proteins — in a 2% Uttwiler Spätlauber apple extract neutralized factors that lead to aging and, in some cases, actually reversed the process.
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