PhytoCellTec™ Argan was developed to improve the regenerative capacity of dermal stem cells thereby achieving deep-seated rejuvenation of the skin. This active ingredient is based on stem cells of the Argan tree, one of the oldest tree species in the world. The argan tree is indigenous to the arid southwest of Morocco and has adapted perfectly to intense drought and extremely high temperatures, which are typical in this region. Unfortunately, the Argan tree population has shrunk dramatically due to extensive cultivation of the land, so that nowadays the remaining Argan forests are under the protection of UNESCO
Adult skin stem cells – Dermal stem cells
The main function of the dermis is to provide mechanical support and elasticity to the skin. In order to maintain these important functions, healthy skin undergoes constant cell turnover, which renews and repairs the dermal connective tissue. New cells are produced to replace damaged or dead ones. Responsible for this regenerative process are adult dermal stem cells, which reside in the dermal papilla of the hair follicle. These cells differentiate into dermal cell types like fibroblasts, which are responsible for the continuous production of the extracellular matrix proteins elastin and collagen. However, dermal stem cells do age, they become less in number and exhibit reduced activity. As a consequence the production of collagen and elastin drops and the skin loses its firmness - wrinkles appear.
Therefore it is important to protect the dermal stem cells and to maintain their activity.
Plant stem cells to protect human dermal stem cells
The activity of stem cells is regulated by specific compounds, epigenetic factors among others. Plant stem cells also have such epigenetic factors. In-vitro studies demonstrate, that an extract made of argan stem cells has a positive influence on the activity of human dermal stem cells.
A new assay to measure dermal stem cell activity
In order to evaluate the activity of PhytoCellTec™ Argan on dermal stem cells, a stable human dermal stem cell line was used as a new test system: stem cell activity is assessed based on the expression of the stem cell marker Sox2 (a key regulator of pluripotency in dermal stem cells) and on the property of dermal stem cells to grow in three-dimensional spherical colonies. These two characteristics are only expressed by vital dermal stem cells.
Dermal stem cells, which are cultivated in the presence of the Argan stem cell extract show enhanced Sox2 expression compared to the untreated control culture (figure 1). Moreover, when seeded on a culture dish these “aged” stem cells exhibit a better ability to form 3-D spheres than the untreated control (figure 2). Thus, PhytoCellTec™ Argan helps the dermal stem cells to maintain their “stemness” even after long-term cultivation.
Improvement of the extracellular matrix structure – reduction of wrinkle depth
The dermal tissue structure of forearms from volunteers was visualized by ultrasonography before and after treatment with PhytoCellTec™ Argan (figure 3). In the ultrasonographic images the dermis appears in bright colours, whereas the so-called subepidermal low echogenic band (SLEB) produces dark patches. This SLEB is the result of a disrupted architecture of the dermis and commonly found in aged and photo-damaged skin. Results clearly show, that a 56 days treatment with PhytoCellTec™ Argan reduces the SLEB and significantly improves the dermal tissue density.
Figure 4 shows ultrasonographic images made from a women’s thigh, where the dermis is depicted in bright colours and the hypodermis shows up in black. The irregular dermis-hypodermis junction is caused by adipose tissue protruding into the lower dermis (figure 3, red arrows). This is a typical image for cellulite. A 56 days treatment with PhytoCellTec™ Argan shows a tightening of the dermal tissue, leading to a much smoother dermis-hypodermis junction.
The anti-wrinkle effect of PhytoCellTec™ Argan was demonstrated in a clinical study with 21 volunteers, average age 49. A cream with 0.4% PhytoCellTec™ Argan was applied to the crow's feet area around the eye over 56 days. The results reveal a reduction in wrinkle depth by remarkable 26 %.
PhytoCellTec™ Argan is the first active ingredient capable of both protecting and vitalizing human dermal stem cells. This not only helps to accelerate the skin’s natural repair process but also fights skin aging right at the root for a wonderfully fresh and radiant appearance.