To determine why neuropeptide products are different
from other effective antiaging skin care treatments
on the market, we first have to determine
the difference between neuropeptide and amino
Neuro- and pentapaptides are both
peptides but "neuro" refers to the very specific functions
of this peptide group, while "penta" merely refers to the
size of certain peptide molecules.
"Peptide" seems to be the "IT" word in antiaging skin creams
today. We have copper peptides, amino-polypeptides,
hexapeptides, pentapeptides and now neuropeptides. And then
there are all the variants like acetyl hexapeptide-3 and
palmitoyl pentapeptide (a.k.a palmitoyl oligopeptide).
The list is virtually endless and very confusing to the
non-biochemist. Let me try to help you wade through some of
A peptide is simply a small protein which is made up of amino
acids. Peptides are active at very small doses, are highly
specific and have a very good safety profile when used
physiologically ? that is, to assist or change an organism's
physical processes. If we take apart some of the peptide labels
above, we can begin to discriminate among them.
The use of "amino" in amino-polypeptide is a bit redundant
because all peptides are made of amino acids. The "poly" just
means this is a peptide of several amino acids. A "hexapeptide"
is a chain of exactly six (hexa) amino acids; a pentatpeptide
is a chain of five (penta). One chemist working with a
palmitoylated five-amino-acid-chain peptide named it "palmitoyl
pentapeptide", while another chemist studying the same molecule
called it "palmitoyl oligopeptide". This is a legitimate, though
less specific, label since "oligo" means "few". And so the
The term "neuropeptide" is a bit more helpful in that it
actually describes the function of the peptide. Neuropeptides
act as neuromodulators, neurotransmitters, neurohormones, and
hormones. Research into neuropeptides has exploded in recent
years to the extent that there is a scientific journal named
Neuropeptides whose aim is the rapid publication of
original research and review articles, dealing with the
structure, distribution, actions and functions of peptides in
the central and peripheral nervous systems.
What is exciting about neuropeptides is their power and reach.
Other neurotransmitters transmit central nervous system
signals in one direction and along a path from A to B.
Neuropeptides transmit omnidirectionally outward and can even
direct transmissions in reverse. As neuromodulators, they can
activate and deactivate other neurotransmitters. The
scientific mind boggles at the potential.
The names of some of the neuropeptides may be familiar and
help you to understand the potential of unlocking the secrets
of these peptide molecules. Neuropeptides are grouped into
families based on similarities in their amino acid sequences.
There are the Tachykinins; the Insulins; the Somatostatins;
the Gastrins such as cholecystokinin used to diagnose
gallbladder and pancreatic problems; and the Opioids such as
the enkephalins ? the body's own opiates or painkillers.
As to how neuropeptides might affect the skin,
an abstract in the July/August 2003 Brazilian Annals of
Dermatology states: "There is increasing evidence that
cutaneous nerve fibers play a modulatory role in a variety
of acute and chronic skin processes.
Local interactions between skin
cells, skin immune components and neuronal tissues occur
specially through neuropeptides ? Neuropeptide-related
functions on skin and immune cells, as well ...nerve fibers
in cutaneous inflammatory responses, hypersensitivity
reactions and dermatoses, namely psoriasis, atopic
dermatitis, leprosy and alopecia."
Now that you know that a neuropeptide has a function in the
central nervous system and that a pentapeptide might also be
a neuropeptide (having five amino acids in its chain) but not
all neuropeptides are pentapeptides, how can you decide
whether to pay the extra money for the exciting new
neuropeptide creams? You want some evidence that they are
sufficiently more effective to justify the higher price, right?
In sorting through all the peptides currently touted for
antiaging skin care, I decided they can be placed into one of
three groups depending on the amount and quality on the
published research and development behind their use in skin care.
Some peptides have a lot of published scientific research behind
them. They were developed for medical use and because of their
success, found their way into antiaging cosmeceuticals. Copper
peptide falls into this group since it has been studied and
employed in wound healing since the 1970s. Palmitoyl
pentapeptide also falls into this group. Doctors were already
prescribing Strivectin-SD for stretch mark and scar removal when
clinical studies of its superior wrinkle-reducing properties
were presented at the 20th World Congress of Dermatology in 2002.
Other peptides have been developed within the cosmetic industry
and quickly brought to market. The companies are careful to
make no medical claims in order to avoid the lengthy FDA review
process for a drug. Argiriline, a.k.a. acetyl hexapeptide-3,
falls into this group. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that,
similar to Botox, it reduces a muscle's ability to tense and form
deep lines of expression. Customer reviews are quite positive
and more companies are incorporating the ingredient into their
In the third group are peptides that are very new or are
proprietary and not widely available. Dr. Nicholas Perricone's
neuropeptide creams fall into this category. His neuropeptide
variants all contain the prefix "CL". No research labs I could
locate are studying or making the CL variants. Of course, as we
saw above in the case of palmitoyl pentatpeptide, he may have
just given an already known neuropeptide a different name.
The consumer has little to go on except Dr. Perricone's word.
That is, unless you consider his track record and broad
following. He hasn't yet failed to deliver. His previous
antiaging developments have met with broad acclaim and his
three books have been on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Dr. Perricone explains his work with neuropeptides in his third
book "The Perricone Promise" thus. "In 'The Wrinkle
Cure' and 'The Perricone Prescription', I introduced a
major theme of my research: the Inflammation-Disease-Aging
Connection. Because inflammation is a great contributor to
accelerated aging, it has been an important focus of my ongoing
scientific research. And we now know that neuropeptides and
peptides play an important role in mediating inflammation."
Jean Bowler has been a fitness freak all her life. She has danced and taught ballet and been a personal trainer. Additionally she has sold skin care and nutrition products. Her articles on antiaging skin care products and cosmetic procedures, diet and nutriion, hair loss and more are available at http://www.ageless-beauty.com