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Bacteria protect us from the sun?

...or it looks like the microbiome is omnipotent!

Research on the topic of the skin microbiome is relatively new and therefore we are still discovering its properties and the ways in which it affects us, either positively or negatively. We now know that on the surface of not only our skin, we have so many microorganisms that the number of their cells exceeds our own. This collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeasts, mites... mainly protects our skin - but only if their populations are in balance. If it happens that a certain population of bacteria, for example, increases or, conversely, its quantity falls, we can observe acne, eczema, dry skin or even rosacea.

But now we're finding that the microbiome also plays a role in the skin's response to exposure to sunlight. Specifically, the following have the greatest influence: Staphylococcus epidermidis , Micrococcus luteus , Bifidobacterium spp. and Malassezia furfur. If these microorganisms are in the right population proportions, they contribute to the protection of the skin from radiation with their metabolism. However, otherwise our skin becomes quite defenseless. We refer to the state of the microbiota and its metabolism protecting us from sunlight as the " photobiome factor ".

How exactly do these microbes work on our skin? Thanks to sunlight, they begin to produce substances - metabolites, solar postbiotics (note: postbiotic = product of bacterial metabolism) through their metabolism , which we call metabiotics. These include, for example, melanin or urolithins, and they are able to protect your microbiome, if they are produced in sufficient quantities, i.e. if there is a sufficient amount of the microbial populations themselves. Assuming that there is a lower production of these protective metabiotics (for example, due to excessive sun exposure), the production of harmful metabolites of our microbiota will prevail and more intensive photoaging of the skin will occur. But now it turns out that we can prevent this photoaging thanks to the protection of the MICROBIOM itself.

Spanish biotech firm Vytrus Biotech has created Photobiome , a mixture of the following substances:

  • pomegranate stem cells
  • cotton stem cells from sub-Saharan Africa and Arabia Gossypium herbaceum
  • prebiotics fructooligosaccharides and trehalose.

This mixture was able to protect the S. epidermidis strain up to sevenfold against destruction by UV radiation. In another experiment, the culture of several microbial strains was completely destroyed by exposure to UV radiation (without any UV protection) and when using the same radiation with a cream containing 3% Photobiome, 43% cell viability was preserved.

Fig: comparison of protected and unprotected skin microbiome. O. Expósito, M. Buchholz, A. Gallego, M. Gibert, A. Guirado, S. Laplana, D. Luna, M. Mas, P. Riera, T. Ruiz, S. Ruiz, de Vytrus Biotech sA: Fotoproteger la microbiota cutaneous para prevenir el fotoenvejecimiento, Industria cosmética 026, 62-67, EN/FEB 2023.

Not only that this mixture of substances is able to improve the life of the microbiome. It can also preserve and even increase its ability to form beneficial metabiotics - the previously mentioned melanin and urolithins, in addition, it also reduces the formation of free oxygen radicals and the resulting oxidative stress of our skin cells, keratinocytes, is then reduced by up to 260%.

And because I believe we are all interested in the very effect of this protected microbiome on the skin - in vivo studies show better elasticity, finer wrinkles and less hyperpigmentation after just 28 days!

Well, doesn't it sound like a fairy tale? And all this without the use of currently available UV filters, commonly found in cosmetics. That a new era of photo protection would be ushered in?

O. Expósito , M. Buchholz , A. Gallego , M. Gibert, A. Guirado, S. Laplana, D. Luna, M. Mas, P. Riera, T. Ruiz, S. Ruiz , de V ytrus B iotech sA: Fotoproteger la microbiota cutaneousa para prevenir el photoenvejecimiento, Industria cosmética 026 , 62-67, EN/FEB 2023.

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