The IL-17 Protein Plays a Key Role in Skin Aging

A team of scientists from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) in collaboration with the National Center for Genomic Analysis (CNAG) has discovered that IL-17 protein plays a central role in skin ageing. The study, which was led by Dr. Guiomar Solanas, Dr. Salvador Aznar Benitah, both at IRB Barcelona, and Dr. Holger Heyn, at CNAG, highlights an IL-17-mediated ageing process to an inflammatory state.

Skin ageing is characterised by a series of structural and functional changes that gradually contribute to the deterioration and fragility associated with age. Aged skin has a reduced capacity to regenerate, poor healing ability, and diminished barrier function.

Published in the journal Nature Aging, this work describes the changes undergone by different types of cells with ageing and identifies how some immune cells in the skin express high levels of IL-17.

In addition to a wide variety of epithelial cells, hair follicle cells, and other components, the skin is also home to immune cells, which play a crucial role in preventing infection and protecting against different damages.

The study describes how, during ageing, the presence of some of these immune cells, namely gamma delta T cells, innate lymphoid cells, and CD4+ T cells, significantly increases in the skin. These same cells also start expressing very high levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-17.

The team of researchers studied the response of various aspects to blocking IL-17 activity, including hair follicle growth, transepidermal water loss, wound healing, and genetic markers of ageing. These four parameters showed an improvement after treatment, as the acquisition of these ageing traits was significantly delayed.

Future work by the researchers will focus on clarifying the ageing processes that are related to inflammatory states in the skin and how these are linked to IL-17. The team will also address whether IL-17 is involved in the ageing and deterioration of other tissues and organs.


Paloma Solá, Elisabetta Mereu, Júlia Bonjoch, Marta Casado-Peláez, Neus Prats, Mònica Aguilera, Oscar Reina, Enrique Blanco, Manel Esteller, Luciano Di Croce, Holger Heyn, Guiomar Solanas, Salvador Aznar Benitah. Targeting lymphoid-derived IL-17 signaling to delay skin aging. Nature Aging, 2023; DOI: 10.1038/s43587-023-00431-z

Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). (2023, June 8). The IL-17 protein plays a key role in skin aging. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 8, 2023 from

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