Menopause and the Skin: Old Favorites and New Innovations in Cosmeceuticals for Estrogen-Deficient Skin.
Estrogen is a pivotal signaling molecule; its production is regulated by the expression of the aromatase (CYP19A1) gene from ovarian and peripheral tissue sites, and it is transmitted via estrogen receptors to influence many important biological functions. However, the narrative for this overview focuses on the decline of 17β-estradiol levels from ovarian sites after menopause. This estrogen-deficient condition is associated with a dramatic reduction in skin health and wellness by negatively impacting dermal cellular and homeostatic mechanisms, as well as other important biological functions. The changes include loss of collagen, elastin, fibroblast function, vascularity, and increased matrix metalloproteinase(s) enzymatic activities, resulting in cellular and extracellular degradation that leads to dryness, wrinkles, atrophy, impaired wound healing/barrier function, decreased antioxidant capacity [i.e., defense against reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress], decreased attractiveness and psychological health, and increased perception of aging. While topical estrogen may reverse these changes, the effects of today's low-dose systemic hormone treatments are not well established, raising the need for more concentrated local administration of hormones or newer cosmeceutical agents such as selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), including phytoestrogens that have become major active ingredients for skin care products, especially when addressing estrogen-deficient skin. Two example compounds are presented, an analog of resveratrol (i.e., 4'-acetoxy resveratrol) and the isoflavonoid equol, both of which are involved in a variety of biochemical/molecular actions and mechanisms, as demonstrated via in vitro and clinical studies that enhance human dermal health, especially in estrogen-deficient skin.