Please cite this paper as: Bifidobacterium longum lysate, a new ingredient for reactive skin. Experimental Dermatology 2010; 19: e1–e8.
Abstract: Reactive skin is characterized by marked sensitivity to physical (heat, cold, wind) or chemical (topically applied products) stimuli and by the impairment of the skin barrier’s ability to repair itself. Several lines of evidence suggest that beyond their capacity to positively influence the composition of intestinal microbiota, some probiotic bacteria can modulate the immune system both at local and systemic levels, thereby improving immune defense mechanisms and/or down-regulating immune disorders such as allergies and intestinal inflammation. Several recent human clinical trials clearly suggest that probiotic supplementation might be beneficial to the skin. Using a probiotic lysate, Bifidobacterium longum sp. extract (BL), we demonstrated first in vitro, and then in a clinical trial, that this non-replicating bacteria form applied to the skin was able to improve sensitive skin. The effect of BL were evaluated first on two different models. Using ex vivo human skin explant model we found a statistically significant improvement versus placebo in various parameters associated with inflammation such as a decrease in vasodilation, oedema, mast cell degranulation and TNF-alpha release. Moreover, using nerve cell cultures in vitro, we showed that after 6 h of incubation in culture medium (0.3–1%), the probiotic lysate significantly inhibited capsaicin-induced CGRP release by neurones. Then, a topical cream containing the active extract was tested in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Sixty-six female volunteers with reactive skin were randomly given either the cream with the bacterial extract at 10% (n = 33) or the control cream (n = 33). The volunteers applied the cream to the face, arms and legs twice a day for two months. Skin sensitivity was assessed by stinging test (lactic acid) and skin barrier recovery was evaluated by measuring trans-epidermal water loss following barrier disruption induced by repeated tape-stripping at D1, D29 and D57. The results demonstrated that the volunteers who applied the cream with bacterial extract had a significant decrease in skin sensitivity at the end of the treatment. Moreover, the treatment led to increase skin resistance against physical and chemical aggression compared to the group of volunteers who applied the control cream. Notably, the number of strippings required to disrupt skin barrier function was significantly increased for volunteers treated with the active cream. Clinical and self-assessment scores revealed a significant decrease in skin dryness after 29 days for volunteers treated with the cream containing the 10% bacterial extract. Since in vitro studies demonstrated that, on one hand, isolate sensitive neurones release less CGRP under capsaicin stimulation in the presence of the bacterial extract and, on the other hand, increased skin resistance in volunteers applying the test cream, we speculate that this new ingredient may decrease skin sensitivity by reducing neurone reactivity and neurone accessibility. The results of this studies demonstrate that this specific bacterial extract has a beneficial effect on reactive skin. These findings suggest that new approaches, based on a bacteria lysate, could be developed for the treatment and/or prevention of symptoms related to reactive skin.