Natural ingredient with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties

A recently published review examines the valuable biological properties of 18-beta-glycyrrhetinic acid (GA), particularly those playing key roles in the treatment of various dermatological disorders in humans. The review highlights the key anti‐inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of GA and its toxicity towards normal cells lines. It also examines the physicochemical properties of GA and presents methods of increasing its penetration through the stratum corneum and bioaccumulation with the use of modern delivery systems such as liposomes and nanoemulsions.

Recently, attention has been focused on identifying natural herbal compounds with high biological activity, especialy antioxidative, anti‐inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, for preventing and controlling various skin conditions, including inflammation‐related diseases such as atopic dermatitis and UV‐induced skin photoaging. One key active plant ingredient is 18-beta‐glycyrrhetinic acid (GA), the main metabolite of glycyrrhizin (GL), obtained from licorice root.

Most significant asset is anti-inflammatory efficacy

18-beta-Glycyrrhetinic acid is characterized by not only a wide range of valuable biological properties but also by interesting dermatological applications. From the point of view of dermatology and cosmetology, its most significant asset is its anti-inflammatory efficacy, which is particularly important as inflammation processes form the basis of many skin concerns, such as acne, atopic skin or ageing skin. GA exhibits anti-inflammatory activity by suppressing the expression of pro-inflammatory genes, inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines and influencing the transformation of arachidonic acid into pro-inflammatory leukotrienes. Although its structure is like that of hormones secreted by the adrenal cortex, it does not promote the growth of viruses or fungi.

Antioxidant properties

Additionally, GA has antioxidant properties and this activity is directed to the inactivation of free radicals and inhibition of lipid oxidation. GA displays low toxicity against normal human cell lines, fibroblasts and keratinocytes. Its substantial antimicrobial activity towards some strains of bacteria indicate that GA could be promising candidate for the treatment of microbial-inducted diseases and skin disorders. In addition, it is worth noting that GA has an ability to strengthen the activity of some antibiotics towards MRSA: tobramycin, gentamicin, amikacin and polymyxin B. GA could be added to cosmetic formulations to not only support  the primary  functions of  the active substance, but also to perform auxiliary functions as a preservative.

The review has been published in International Journal of Cosmetic Science on 05 June 2019 by Agnieszka Kowalska and Urszula Kalinowska‐Lis from Medical University of Lodz, Poland

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