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Hyaluronic Acid: The Ultimate Skin Hydrating Agent

Posted by Dr T. Bombeli, MD on 4/30/2018

HA in the Skin

HA is found in almost all vertebrate organs, but most abundantly in the soft connective tissues of the skin. The estimated total amount of HA in human skin has been found to be 5g, about a third of the total amount of HA believed to be present within the entire human body. Interestingly, HA is not only found in the deeper layers of the skin where connective tissue is predominant, but also in the top layers of the skin (epidermis) around the horny cells (keratinocytes). In the skin, HA is bound to proteins (aggregans) together with other glycosaminoglycans, such as dermatan sulphate, chondroitin sulphate and keratin sulphate. As its name implies, aggrecan is composed of very large proteoglycan aggregates. The most important property of these molecules is their strong ability to bind to water. Consequently, HA becomes hydrated to such an extent that a gel-like system is formed. Hence, the main function of HA is to aid in the body s water maintenance providing essential moisture for body processes and molecular transport. However, as we age, the HA levels in the skin decrease, contributing to skin aging and formation of wrinkles. For example, fifty year old people are estimated to have less than half the amount of HA in the skin than they had in the youth.