The Journal of investigative dermatology

Regeneration of human dermis by a multi-headed peptide.

PMID 23812301


Skin aging is characterized by deterioration of the dermal collagen fiber network due to both decreased collagen expression and increased collagenolytic activity. We designed and evaluated in vitro and ex vivo the efficacy of a trifunctional peptide (TFP) to restore collagen and elastin fibers. TFP was constituted of an elastokine motif (VGVAPG)3, able to increase matrix constituent expression through the stimulation of the elastin-binding protein receptor, a GIL tripeptide occupying matrix metalloproteinase-1 subsites, and a RVRL linker domain acting as a competitive substrate for urokinase. The effects of TFP on type I, type III collagens, and elastin expression in dermal fibroblasts were determined by quantitative real-time reverse-transcriptase-PCR and western blotting. TFP's inhibitory capacity against MMP-1, plasmin, and urokinase was assessed using synthetic substrates, immunohistochemistry, and skin tissue sections as natural substrates. A skin explant model was used to recapitulate aging-induced dermal changes along culture extent. Collagen and elastin fiber structure was analyzed by two-photon fluorescence, second harmonic generation, and confocal microscopies. Compared with the different sections constituting the full peptide, we found that TFP activated the production of matrix constituents while inhibiting MMP-1 in vitro and ex vivo. It also induced a proper fiber network organization, reflecting the potency of TFP in skin remodeling and regeneration.