The Journal of investigative dermatology

Ellagic and tannic acids protect newly synthesized elastic fibers from premature enzymatic degradation in dermal fibroblast cultures.

PMID 16601672


Progressive proteolytic degradation of cutaneous elastic fibers, that cannot be adequately replaced or repaired by adult dermal fibroblasts, constitutes a major feature of aging skin. Our present investigations, employing monolayer cultures of human dermal fibroblasts and organ cultures of skin biopsies, were aimed at testing whether the hydrophilic tannic acid (TA) and lipophilic ellagic acid (EA) would protect dermal elastin from exogenous and endogenous enzymatic degradation. Results from both culture systems indicated that dermal fibroblasts, maintained with TA or EA, deposit significantly more elastic fibers than untreated control cultures despite the fact that neither polyphenol enhanced transcription of elastin mRNA or cellular proliferation. Results of a pulse and chase experiment showed that pretreatment with both polyphenols enhanced biostability of tropoelastin and newly deposited elastin. Results of in vitro assays indicated that both polyphenols bound to purified elastin and significantly decreased its proteolytic degradation by elastolytic enzymes belonging to the serine proteinase, cysteine proteinase, and metallo-proteinase families. Importantly, both polyphenols also synergistically enhanced elastogenesis induced by selected elastogenic compounds in cultures of dermal fibroblasts. We propose that EA and TA may be useful for preventing proteolytic degradation of existing dermal elastic fibers and for enhancing more efficient elastogenesis in aged skin.

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Ellagic acid, analytical standard