Dermatological application of soy isoflavones to prevent skin aging in postmenopausal women
of Soy Isoflavones to
Prevent Skin Ageing in
Schmid Daniel, Muggli Reto and Zülli Fred
Mibelle AG Cosmetics, Bolimattstrasse 1, 5033 Buchs, Switzerland
genistin and daidzin (Fig. 1 and 2)
. In nonfermented
Isoflavones from soy beans are used in functional
soyfoods, they occur predominantly in form of the
food products as a measure to alleviate hormone-
polar, water-soluble glycosides, whereas fermented
soy products contain mainly the biologically active
phytohormones are well perceived and do not showthe negative side effects found in conventionaltherapies with hormones such as estrogens. Anumber of studies show that estrogens can slow downthe aging process of the skin in postmenopausalwomen. For this reason, isoflavones from soy beansare also very interesting compounds for cosmeticformulations. We succeeded in isolating very purefractions of isoflavones in the form of the activeaglycones suitable for cosmetic applications. Weherein report the use of this aglycone preparation inthe treatment of post menopause skin and discussfurther applications.
Phytoestrogens are plant derived compounds with
Fig. 1. Molecular structures of the hormone estrogen and
biological activities comparable to the human
the phytoestrogens genistein and daidzein
Epidemiological studies indicating associations
between diet and disease states led to theinvestigation of a series of bioactive plant compounds,called phytochemicals. Some of these nonnutrientplant chemicals, such as phytoestrogens were shownto confer significant long-term health benefits.
Phytoestrogens are structurally and functionally
similar to human estrogen (Fig. 1
). There are two
types of phytoestrogens, the lignans and the
isoflavones. Soybeans are especially rich inisoflavones. They contain the isoflavones genistein
Fig. 2. Molecular structures of the isoflavone glycosides of
and daidzein and their respective β- g l y c o s i d e s ,
The role of the hormone estrogen and the
mechanism of its action
cardiovascular system. Thus the compound should
Estrogen influences growth, differentiation and
act as a non- or anti-estrogen in breast and uterus
function of the female and male reproductive system
. Recently a second estrogen receptor (ERβ)
such as mammary gland, uterus, vagina, ovary, testes,
was found in addition to the classical (ERα) one. The
epididymis, and prostate as well as other tissues
tissue distribution and the ligand binding affinities of
(Korach et al. 1995
). Estrogen plays an important role
the two receptors are different (Kuiper et al. 1997
in the development and maintenance of the bone
The effectiveness of selective estrogen receptor
structure as well as for the cardiovascular system
modulators depends on their uptake by the various
(Turner et al. 1994, Farhat et al. 1996
tissues and on their specific affinities to the two
principal forms of estrogens, which are produced
mainly in the ovaries and testis, are 17β-estradiol, themost active form, estrone and estriol. Upon arrival at
Phytoestrogens as natural alternative to estrogen
the target cell the estrogens are retained by
intracellular binding proteins, the estrogen receptors
Isoflavones are currently intensively studied as
(ER). The saturated ER undergoes a conformational
natural alternatives to human estrogens used in
change that allows the receptor to interact with the
replacement therapies. The fact that Asian women,
DNA and to modulate the transcription of target
that traditionally consume a lot of soy products, are
less affected by the menopausal symptoms, such asosteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and breast
Estrogen-related physiological disorders and their
cancer, is attributed to their high isoflavone intake
As the ovaries age, their function declines until
with soy isoflavones - so called ‘functional foods’
menopause where the production of estrogen and
or nutraceuticals - are claimed to prevent
progesterone drops drastically. These hormonal
postmenopausal problems, especially osteoporosis.
changes lead to menopausal symptoms like hot
The structures of isoflavones, heterocyclic phenols,
flashes which have a severe negative impact on many
are very similar to the steroidal estrogen (see Fig. 1
women's quality of life. In addition, they are
Thus they can bind to some extent to estrogen
considered to be a potential risk factor for
osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases (Utian 1989
Compared with the principal circulating estrogens
Hormone replacement therapies have been found to
in humans, isoflavones are bound at a much lower
help against these menopause-related disorders.
rate (103-fold weaker), however, they do compete with
However, the continuous administration of estrogen
estrogens for receptor sites. Recent data show that
is sometimes associated with severe adverse effects
phytoestrogens have higher affinities to ERβ than to
such as vaginal bleeding and in rare cases with the
ERα. Phytoestrogens have been shown to protect
development of breast and uterus cancer (Breckwoldt
against osteoporosis and heart disease without1 9 9 5
). Synthetic estrogen-like compounds, called
affecting the uterus and breast (Kuiper et al. 1998,
selective estrogen receptor modulators (e.g.
). Clinically, isoflavones may behave like
r a l o x i f e n e®), were introduced recently for an
selective estrogen receptor modulators. Thus, the
improved hormone replacement therapy (Compston
application of isoflavones may have decisive1 9 9 8
). The perfect drug should have a tissue
advantages over classical hormone replacement
selectivity and exert an estrogenic effect only in
Table 1. Selective tissue effects of synthetic estrogen-like compounds (e.g. raloxifene) and isoflavones (Maroulis 2000).
Benefits of phytoestrogens in skin care
oil. Thus, a special galenic form is necessary to
After menopause, the skin undergoes changes that
introduce these isoflavone preparations into cosmetic
include thinning, decrease in elasticity and wrinkle
aging is the consequence of a lower production of
isoflavones suitable for cosmetic applications (Fig. 3
collagen and elastin, the supportive and elasticproteins of the skin (Brincat et al. 1987, Affinito et al.
1999, Adamiak et al. 2000
be an organ responding to ovarian hormones. Indeedestrogen receptors have been identified in humanskin (Hasselquist et al. 1980, Schmidt et al. 1990
question as to how far this skin aging is induced bypostmenopausal hypoestrogenism is still underdiscussion (Affinito et al. 1999
Several studies show that estrogen therapy
preserves collagen content, elastic properties, andthickness of the skin in postmenopausal women(Hasselquist et al. 1980, Punnonen et al. 1987, Castelo-Branco et al. 1992, Dunn et al. 1997
Fig. 3. Production process for a cosmetic phytoestrogen
treatments were shown to reverse postmenopausal
skin aging (Callens et al. 1996, Schmidt et al. 1996
Estrogenic compounds reduce the depth of wrinkles
A soy preparation which is rich in isoflavones is
and increase the tone and hydration of the skin.
treated with a βglucosidase to deglycosylate the
Since the results obtained with isoflavone
isolflavones to the corresponding aglycones. As a
supplemented nutraceuticals are very positive, we
consequence of their hydrophobic nature, these
believe that the topical application of phytohormones
aglycones precipitate almost entirely and can be
can also fight some of the menopause-associated skin
separated by centrifugation from the enzyme and the
problems. In in vitro
testing genistein stimulated
water-soluble brown polyphenols. The aglycones are
collagen synthesis (Kawashima et al. 1996
extracted with alcohol to get a phytohormone
regulated matrix metalloproteinases (Shao et al
. ) .
solution. The aglycones can then be incorporated into
Therefore topical application of isoflavones is not
liposomes to get a water dispersable preparation
only beneficial in postmenopausal skin, where it
which has a high bioavailability in the skin.
replenishes the loss of endogenous estrogen but alsoin normal skin when used to treat cellulite or dull skin
Analytical characterization of isoflavones
Isoflavones have an absorption maximum at 260
nm and can be separated on a reverse phase column.
Development of a pure isoflavone preparation
Therefore the aglycone formation in our purification
suitable for skin care
process can be followed by HPLC analysis. The
There are several soy isoflavone products on the
analysis of the starting material revealed that the
market that are sold as dietary food supplements. In
isoflavone glycosides daidzin and genistin are the
most cases, these food supplements contain only
main components. After the β-glucosidase treatment,
isoflavone glycosides, the molecular form that is
these glycosides were completely transformed to their
biologically not active. However, after ingestion the
corresponding aglycones daidzein and genistein (Fig.
glycosides are transformed by intestinal glucosidases
). The Genistin of the source material could be
and intestinal bacterial metabolism into the
recovered at 86% as genistein and daidzin at 50% as
estrogenically active form (Setchell and Cassidy 1999
daidzein respectively after alcohol extraction. The
Since the skin does not habour such bacteria and
characterization of the aglycone solution in alcohol
enzymes, the active isoflavone preparations for skin
revealed that the product has a purity of > 80%.
care must be in the form of aclycones. Unfortunately,
Upon dilution of this alcohol solution in water white
these aglycones have a poor solubility in water and
needles of geinstein and daizein became visible.
lotions and creams since the product can easily beformulated into the water phase of cosmetics. Acombination with moisturizers and classical anti-agingingredients, such as vitamins and antioxidants mayeven further improve the activity of the product.
It is evident, that isoflavones are also very
interesting compounds for anti-cellulite products asthey enhance the skin tone and its viscoelasticproperties. Thus, we use our aglycone preparation inthe respective field. In our products, we combinedthe phytohormones with an algae extract (spirulinaplatensis) which is rich in minerals to achieve a highly
Fig. 4. HPLC analysis of isoflavones before (blue) and
efficient anti-cellulite formulation suitable to treat
-glucosidase treatment. Separation was done
mone dependent skin and subcutis problems
on a Merck Superspher 100 RP-18C column (4 µm, 254 Zülli et al. 2001
x 4 mm) at 40°C. Solvant A was H2O + 0.1% acetic acid
and solvant B acetonitril + 0.1% acetic acid. A gradient
isoflavones have been reported (Setchell and Cassidyfrom 10% B to 30% B in 60 min was applied. Flow was 1999
). But only little data exist about the effects of soy
1.5 ml/min and detection was at 260 nm.
isoflavones on histologically normal human breast. Inone of these very intersting studies McMichael-
Application of soy isoflavone aglycones in
Phillips et al. 1998 found that phytoestrogens can
stimulate the proliferation of breast epithelium
Over the last decade, plant derived ingredients
significantly in vivo based on higher serum levels of
have gained a lot of interest in cosmetic formulations.
genistein and daidzein after soy supplementation.
However, in many cases, these products do not offer
Thus the application of liposomal aglycones in breast
the proposed activity since the preparations do not
firming products is a new opportunity to improve
contain the active molecules in an appropriate
skin tone and elasticity in women of all ages.
concentration or the compounds are not bioavailable.
The described liposomal aglycone preparation is anew active ingredient derived from soy. The
preparation contains the active form of isoflavones in
Adamiak, A., Skorupski, P., Rechberg e r, T. &
a high concentration and offers a number of different
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