I love to talk stem cell science, mostly because when I say that I research stem cells, it’s followed by gasps of either terror and disdain (because I’m from the South and many still automatically associate stem cells with fetuses and embryos) or magical wonderment—both of which I love to see on others’ faces. So, I smile with satisfaction and clear the air of misgivings or further bewilder curious minds. For those of you that know the gist about adipose derived stem cells (ADSCs), I can offer some additional food for thought as it applies to FACTORFIVE Skincare.
Depending on the condition that is being treated, selecting the appropriate source is vital. Here are the upsides to selecting adipose as your stem cell source for skincare over any other source.
• Consistent function: ADSCs maintain fat and associated tissue, such as skin.
• Higher yield: 500-1000X more ADSCs in fat than BMSCs in [equal amounts of] bone marrow.
• Easily accessible: Obtaining ADSCs from liposuction is considered minimally invasive and less painful than a bone marrow aspirate.
(Cue cartoon of stem cells lifting weights at the gym.) The overall health of your cells is called cell fitness. This is a general descriptor of the health status of an individual who has donated their stem cells. As you can imagine, age, sex, body mass index, exercise regimen, food intake, etc. are all influential to the fitness of all the cells in your body. Although much of this information is not disclosed when receiving a vial of stem cells, we as stem cell researchers are able to determine the cell fitness by evaluating characteristics and testing their function, including examining the quality and quantity of molecules that they secrete (*hint hint* what’s in the conditioned media). This is my version of reverse engineering.
In summary, appropriate tissue source + healthy donors = highly effective stem cell products.
Let’s Talk About Stem Cells
Much of what we discuss is on the tissue level, for example skin, however the actives are actually affecting the cells that make up the tissue. Since skin is our first line of defense, let’s examine four main cell types that make up skin as they affect our skin’s overall appearance.
- Immune Cells: Skin contains various resident immune cells that are our “first responders,” quick to act when our barrier is compromised. In this case, immune cells relay the message (“we need an army”) to recruit more immune cells that, in turn, ensues inflammation. Here are the five cardinal signs: 1) rubor (redness); 2) calor (heat); 3) tumor (swelling); 4) dolor (pain); and last but not least 5) functio laesa (loss of function).
- Segue to Vascular Cells: The cells making up the blood system–arteries, vessels, and capillaries are integral constituents of our skin, really every part of our body. It is the highway to traffic recruited immune cells, molecular signals, exchange nutrients, and waste, etc. If our skin is compromised because of the cells that make up the vasculature has lost its integrity, this too leads to imperfections visible on the skin.
- Fat Cells (my favorite): Adipocytes (fat cells) lay the foundation of our skin. As we age, we lose this subcutaneous fat. As mentioned above, our stem cells are affected by age and inevitably have a diminished capacity to supply nutrients to maintain the underlying fat for the youthful, plump appearance of the overlying skin.
- Skin Cells: Think tree bark. The deep layers of our skin contain progenitor cells, young cells that one day aspire to be movie stars, I mean, a mature skin cell on the superficial-most layer. The maturation process from a young progenitor to the mature fate of a terminal keratinocyte must be tightly regulated.
Together, an effective skin treatment should include actives that address all the cellular components of skin. Fortunately, ADSCs release a comprehensive profile of factors that do! Human stem cells from fat naturally secrete a profile of growth factors, called a secretome, that contains hundreds of molecules, each promoting numerous mechanisms of action. In brief, these factors:
• Mediate immune cells
• Support vascular cells
• Maintain fat cells
• Regulate skin cells
These growth factors also facilitate the function of fibroblasts, which balance the formation of collagen, follicular cells, which boost hair growth (see: our eye/lash cream), and melanocytes, which control pigmentation (great for assisting with melasma).
Although this doesn’t incorporate all the cells of the skin, these are the main features that contribute to its overall appearance. I truly believe in the remarkable science of these great products and that’s why I stand behind FACTORFIVE.