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Electric field application may reduce skin fibrosis

Collagen fibres in artificial human skin used in this study, observed using scanning electron microscopy. Photo by Sara Gouardères – IMRCP

Applying an electric field to the skin appears to influence collagen pathways in the skin, temporarily reducing collagen production and increasing its degradation, according to new findings.

The research, published in Journal of Investigative Dermatology (Oct. 21, 2021), was inspired in part by past observations of aesthetic and functional healing of patients who underwent electrochemotherapy for skin cancer, according to the authors.

In this study, the investigators used a synthetic skin model rich in extracellular matrix which makes it comparable to human skin in terms of composition and organization.

Using this model, the study’s authors found that applying an electric field to the skin affects many genes that influence collagen production and maturation. They observed a reduction in collagen production as soon as four hours after applying the electric field, and this reduction lasted for several days. They also found increased activity in enzymes that degrade collagen for at least 48 hours after electric field application.

In a press release from France’s Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), the authors note that excess collagen production in the skin can produce fibrosing conditions that impact skin function and aesthetics. They conclude that the application of an electric field to the skin presents potential for future therapeutic use in the treatment of skin fibrosis.


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