The dermal extracellular matrix provides stability and structure to the skin. With increasing age, however, its major component collagen is subject to degeneration, resulting in a gradual decline in skin elasticity and progression of wrinkle formation. Previous studies suggest that the reduction in cellular energy contributes to the diminished synthesis of cutaneous collagen during aging.
To investigate the potential of topically applied creatine to improve the clinical signs of skin aging by stimulating dermal collagen synthesis in vitro and in vivo.
Penetration experiments were performed with a pig skin ex vivo model. Effects of creatine on dermal collagen gene expression and procollagen synthesis were studied in vitro using cultured fibroblast-populated collagen gels. In a single-center, controlled study, 43 male Caucasians applied a face-care formulation containing creatine, guarana extract, and glycerol to determine its influence on facial topometric features.
Cultured human dermal fibroblasts supplemented with creatine displayed a stimulation of collagen synthesis relative to untreated control cells both on the gene expression and at the protein level. In skin penetration experiments, topically applied creatine rapidly reached the dermis. In addition, topical in vivo application of a creatine-containing formulation for 6 weeks significantly reduced the sagging cheek intensity in the jowl area as compared to baseline. This result was confirmed by clinical live scoring, which also demonstrated a significant reduction in crow's feet wrinkles and wrinkles under the eyes.
In summary, creatine represents a beneficial active ingredient for topical use in the prevention and treatment of human skin aging.