Natural Products as Immunomodulators in skin and Skincare: Potential, Challenges, and Future Directions

This excellent review published by A. Fernandes and her team from Universidade Católica Portuguesa in Phytomedicine Journal (Elsevier) presents a comprehensive review of the potential of natural products in treating various skin conditions through immunomodulation. It highlights the growing interest in natural molecules, such as polyphenols, polysaccharides, fatty acids, peptides, and probiotics, for their roles in wound healing, infection control, inflammation reduction, allergy management, and combating premature skin aging. The review underscores the importance of skin immune responses in maintaining skin integrity and homeostasis, disrupted by oxidative stress from environmental and endogenous sources.

Key Findings:

  • Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Properties: Natural products are noted for their significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, crucial in modulating immune functions in the skin.
  • Membrane-bound Immune Receptors: The skin possesses immune receptors that recognize various natural molecules, triggering immune responses beneficial for improving skin conditions.
  • Nanotechnology and Delivery Strategies: The review suggests exploring nanotechnology and other innovative delivery methods to enhance the efficacy of these natural products in human applications.
  • Environmental Considerations: There is an urgent call for environmentally sustainable formulations, especially concerning UV filters, to mitigate negative impacts on marine ecosystems and human health.

Challenges and Limitations:

  • Availability of Compounds: The scarcity of certain natural compounds hampers clinical application due to insufficient quantities.
  • Lack of New Antibacterial Agents: The review points out the dire need for investment in the development of new antibacterial compounds, especially those derived from natural products, to combat the global issue of drug-resistant pathogens.
  • Need for Further Research: Despite the potential, more research is necessary to fully understand the safety, effectiveness, and mechanisms of action of these natural molecules.

Future Directions:

  • Innovation in Isolation Techniques: Enhancing isolation techniques could increase the availability of these compounds for pharmaceutical applications.
  • Eco-friendly Solutions: This review advocates for the development of non-toxic, eco-friendly UV filters and other skincare ingredients.
  • Translational Science: There’s a call to accelerate research into novel molecules with antibiotic and immunomodulatory activities, bridging the gap between natural product research and clinical application.

In summary, this review emphasizes the promising role of natural products as immunomodulators in skincare, highlighting the need for continued research into their mechanisms of action, safety, and efficacy.

A. Fernandes et al. call for innovative approaches to overcome current limitations, emphasizing the importance of sustainability and environmental considerations in the development of future skincare solutions.

Article DOI.

Image Credits: A. Fernandes et al. Phytomedicine

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