SKIN BIOLOGY

Benefits of fat

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Science  01 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6426, pp. 495
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6426.495-a

A single pathway protects against skin infection and wrinkling.

PHOTO: ERIN SCOTT

Wrinkles are a natural part of aging and are largely caused by the breakdown of the nutrient-rich fat layer under our skin. Subcutaneous fat cells (adipocytes) not only provide volume and plumping but also produce antimicrobial peptides that help protect against skin infection. Zhang et al. studied how specialized cells called dermal fibroblasts transform into adipocytes from birth to adulthood. Activation of the protein transforming growth factor–β (TGF-β) reduced the production and quality of adipocytes and impaired antimicrobial defense. The study raises the possibility that drugs targeting the TGF-β pathway might have a double benefit of tackling wrinkles and skin infection.

Immunity 50, 121 (2019).

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