Researchers at Beiersdorf and Charité University Medicine Berlin recently announced they have found that epidermal skin cells have their own “inner clock.” [1] According to the two scientific teams said this “clock” controls skin regeneration.

Beiersdorf Laboratory assistants working with typical cell cultures at the...

Beiersdorf Laboratory assistants working with typical cell cultures at the sterile work stations

Dr. Jörn Hendrik Reuter, Head of the General Skin Care Laboratory at Beiersdorf, who participated in the collaborative research project with Professor Achim Kramer from the Chronobiology Department of Charité Berlin, said these findings “could have a large influence on the skincare of the future.

The research teams have studied circadian rhythms of the skin’s stress hormone cortisol in 20 test subjects. In parallel, cell samples were taken from 20 volunteer subjects in four-hour intervals over the course of 24 hours. The analysis of these samples showed that about 10 percent of the genes in skin cells follow their own rhythm. According to the researchers, these most likely correspond to the respective chronotypes.

The molecule “Krüppel-like-factor 9” (Klf9) stood out in the samples. “We observed that Klf9 is mostly active during the day. When it was inactive more rapid cell division was observed,” said Dr. Jörn-Hendrik Reuter. When the research team increased the concentration of Klf9 in the samples, cell division was significantly slower.

New prospects for skincare and medicine

According to Beiersdorf, these results open up completely new possibilities. “We could try to bring skin that is out of synch back into rhythm with its inner clock or perhaps we can address problems caused by lifestyle with skin care that targets chronobiology,” added Dr. Jörn-Hendrik Reuter.

Dr. Jörn Hendrik Reuter, Head of the General Skin Care Laboratory at...

Dr. Jörn Hendrik Reuter, Head of the General Skin Care Laboratory at Beiersdorf and Professor Achim Kramer from the Chronobiology Department of Charité Berlin

The results may also be important for medicine. “With these findings the next step we might be able to take in research is finding out what the best time of day is for operating on someone so that their wound heals best. This is just one of the promising implications for medical research,” said Professor Kramer from Charité Berlin.