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Unique natural exopolysaccharides for biomimetic protective effect against urban pollution

Journal of Cosmetic Science Article Vol. 68 No. 1
Authored by Magali Borel, Elisabeth Lamarque, Estelle Loing 


Through natural selection, living organisms have evolved well-adapted survival strategies over time. The shallow salt waters of Moorea lagoon are the site of accumulation of microbial mats called “Kopara,” in the native Polynesian language. This unique ecosystem is rich in film-forming exopolysaccharides (EPSs) secreted by microorganisms within the biofilm, as a mean to protect themselves from environmental stress (strong ultraviolet [UV], pH, salinity … ). Using blue biotechnology, a manufacturing process was developed to obtain an EPS with skin benefits. The active ingredient (EPS-229) protects against urban pollution, including free radicals, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and PM 2.5 (particulate matter with a size lower than 2.5 µm). Methods: The anti-lipid peroxidation action of EPS-229 was studied in an in vitro UVB-irradiated keratinocyte culture model, using lipophilic fluorescent probe. The chelating properties of EPS-229 were evaluated in tubo in the presence of cadmium and lead. The protective effect of EPS-229 on pollution-exposed skin explants was investigated through quantification of released malondialdehyde (MDA) and histological observation of skin morphology using optical microscopy. Clinical evaluation of the protective and cleansing efficacy of a water solution containing EPS-229 (0.02% and 0.01% w\/v, respectively) was performed, against placebo, on a panel of 18 volunteers. For these studies, the forearms of volunteers were treated with EPS-229 before (anti-adhesion affect) or after (cleansing effect) application of PM 2.5 (iron particles of 1 µm). The presence of skin-adherent particles was observed and quantified by image analysis, using specific digital masks. Results: In vitro , EPS-229 significantly protected keratinocyte cell membranes from lipid peroxidation. A decrease of 28% was achieved when a concentration of 0.001% w\/v EPS-229 was applied to the cell culture. In tubo , EPS-229 also presented strong chelating properties. Maximal adsorption was estimated at 154 mg\/g (1.37 mmol\/g) of EPS-299 for cadmium and at 250 mg\/g (1.21 mmol\/g) of EPS-229 for lead. In the skin explant model of pollution exposure, EPS-229 (0.03% w\/v) reduced MDA production by 44%, preserved cell integrity, improved dermal–epidermal cohesion, and normalized the collagen network. In vivo , treatment of skin with EPS-229 before exposure to PM 2.5 created a protective film limiting particle adhesion. When used in a cleansing solution after exposure to PM 2.5 , EPS-229 formed a mesh that entrapped particles and removed them from the skin surface. Conclusion: Inspired by the French Polynesia Kopara unique ecosystem, a bioactive exopolysaccharide (EPS-229) has been developed that offers protection from environmental aggression. As a biomimetic shield at the surface of the skin, EPS-229 provides an immediate multiprotective action that efficiently fights the harmful effects of urban pollution and smog.

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