Plant Stem Cells in Cosmetics


Stem Cells
Stem Cells being totipotent are defined as the cells which can undergo differentiation to produce any type of cell and thus generate a whole organism. Even after the differentiation, they provide a steady supply of precursor cells due to self-renewal ability. Hence they have a significant role in regenerative medicine. Currently, both animal and plant stem cells are used for skin regeneration, bone regeneration, and hair follicle treatments.

Plant Stem Cells and Cosmetics
Plant stem cells (PSCs) are found in meristematic tissues, mainly apical and lateral meristem. It has been observed that PSCs are majorly responsible for the unique properties of plants·

  • Regeneration: single cell can regenerate a whole plant.
  • Ability to withstand environmental stress.

Plants are equipped with a large number of active ingredients and hence they are used for medicinal purposes. Along with their clinical significance, they have wide applications in the cosmetic field. But the use of plants has been limited due to their slow growth, the existence of toxic metabolites, seasonal harvest, and variation of active concentration from plant to plant and harvest to harvest.

On the other hand, the unique regenerative properties of PSCs such as self-renewal, proliferation ability, differentiation into specialized cell types, and repair of damaged tissues have grabbed the attention of dermatologists to develop stem cells derived cosmetics. A new wave of cosmetic ingredients containing PSCs and their extracts has made its way into the industry. This has become possible only because of new technologies provided by ‘Plant Tissue Engineering’. With the aid of this, PSCs can be cultured under appropriate conditions on a culture medium giving rise to higher production of cells. The production rate can be increased by stimulation factors such as UV radiation, Jasmonic acid, and toxic substrates. Other than the whole PSCs, stem cell extract has also been currently used for whitening agents, such as pigments obtained from safflower, arbutin from Catheranthus roseus, and saflorin from C tincorius.

PSCs and anti-aging
PSCs and their extracts have wide application in the formulation of anti-aging products. They are abundant in various sugars, polyphenols, carotenoids, fatty acids, phenolic acids, and triterpenes which are involved in the anti-aging process. They mainly act on fibroblasts by extending their life and stimulating regeneration. It was observed that Apple stem cells, stem cell extracts of ginger and lilac leaves show anti-aging effects on the skin.
Cultured stem cells from tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) can protect the skin from heavy metal toxicity. It was discovered that stem cell extracts contained a high content of antioxidants and metal chelating compounds- phytochelatin which captures metals and prevents them from damaging the tissues. Ginger stem cells contain active ingredients that improve the skin by the reduction in pore size and sebum production rate.

Commercial and research applications
Currently, in the market, XtemCell’s patented Stem Cell Technology manufactures product that contains high concentrations of amino acids, proteins, lipids, and phytoalexins. They get easily absorbed into the outermost cells of the epidermis and stimulate the skin cell renewal and protect the skin from sun and aging by increasing the filaggrin protein level inside the skin which has skin barrier function.

Researchers are now trying to put efforts into the formulation of cosmetic products to deliver the PSCs to the target site efficiently. Recently, liposomes have been used as vesicular carriers for encapsulating the PSCs. Due to the biocompatible and biodegradable nature of liposomes, it is possible to deliver the PSCs into the deeper layer of the skin to get desired outcomes. This formulation is used for various skin moisturizers containing Alpine Rose stem cells.

Hence it has been estimated that PSCs have potentially influenced the cosmetic industry. Also, the use of PSCs reduces the ethical concerns arising due to the use of animals and humans in the product formulation. The main future aspect taken into consideration to improve the current cosmetics is that more research on active Phyto-ingredients is required followed by development in tissue culture techniques.

Reference (Apr-21-A5)

About the Author
Srushti Mohite is 1st year M.Tech Pharmaceutical Biotechnology student of Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai. Her aim is to study thoroughly about Immunotechnology. She has made her contribution in publishing the article on ‘NeuroAIDs : an infectious disease’  in the Women’s APTI Newsletter Forum March 2021. Currently she is working on ‘ In vitro Ocular Models for Drug Delivery’. She is very passionate about her research work  and gives all the efforts to achieve her goal.

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