Pimply people rejoice! All the bogots we who break out on a regular basis get – even in middle age and on a low carb diet – might be telling the world that our bodies are aging more slowly. New research at Kings College in London has identified a genetic mechanism in people with acne that seems to slow down aging.
A study of white blood cells taken from individuals affected by spots showed they had longer protective caps on the ends of their chromosomes.
Called telomeres, the caps can be compared with the plastic tips that stop shoe laces becoming frayed.
They help prevent the chromosomes, packages of DNA, deteriorating and fusing with their neighbours during cell division.
Telomeres shrink over time and are closely linked to biological ageing – people with long telomeres age more slowly than people with short ones.
Which is apparently reflected outwardly in the form of skin that is prone to acne, somewhat like hair, fingernail condition, and the whites of a person’s eyes can tell a lot about a person’s health.
Lead researcher Dr Simone Ribero, from King’s College London, said: “For many years dermatologists have identified that the skin of acne sufferers appears to age more slowly than in those who have not experienced any acne in their lifetime.
“Whilst this has been observed in clinical settings, the cause of this was previously unclear.
“Our findings suggest that the cause could be linked to the length of telomeres which appears to be different in acne sufferers and means their cells may be protected against ageing.
“By looking at skin biopsies, we were able to begin to understand the gene expressions related to this. Further work is required to consider if certain gene pathways may provide a base for useful interventions.”
Which would explain why the women in my family still get carded after 40. (Grandma was still breaking out at 85.)
This study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, and involved over 1,200 sets of twins – all girls. A quarter of the ladies are acne sufferers. The samples of their skin indicate that shorter telomere length triggers earlier cell death. A specific gene, p35, was identified as being programmed for timing cell death.
Co-author Dr Veronique Bataille, also from King’s College London, said: “Longer telomeres are likely to be one factor explaining the protection against premature skin ageing in individuals who previously suffered from acne.
“Another important pathway, related to the p53 gene, is also relevant when we looked at gene expression in the skin of acne twins compared to twin controls.”