A Novel Matrikine-Like Micro-Protein Complex (MPC) Technology for Topical Skin Rejuvenation

April 2016 | Volume 15 | Issue 4 | Original Article | 457 | Copyright © April 2016

Frank Dreher PhD

Merz North America, Inc. Raleigh, NC

This randomized, controlled, investigator-blinded study performed by an independent research organization evaluated the appearance of periorbital and perioral wrinkles following twice-daily application of a specific blend of matrikines and matrikine-like synthetic peptides for skin rejuvenation over a 6-month period. Fine lines and wrinkles of 133 women, aged 38 years to 65 years, were assessed by an independent expert evaluator using a 5-point visual analogue score. Subjects were divided into 3 groups and randomized to receive either the matrikine-based technology (MPC) or 1 of the 2 materials containing traditional growth factors. Test materials were well tolerated, and all 3 significantly reduced the appearance of periorbital and perioral wrinkles after 3 and 6 months. In the group receiving the matrikine-based technology, periorbital wrinkles improved (≥ 1 unit) in 28% of subjects after 1 month, in 65% after 3 months, and in 81% after 6 months. Perioral wrinkles improved (≥ 1 unit) in 39% of subjects after 1 month, in 41% after 3 months, and in 59% after 6 months. Improvements in skin firmness, tactile roughness, and pore appearance were also observed with each test material. Use of MPC was associated with significantly improved skin elasticity after 2 months (20%) and at 6 months (16%), whereas the comparator materials had no significant effects on elasticity. This study demonstrates that topical use of a specific blend of matrikines and matrikine-like peptides is suitable for skin rejuvenation. It also provides evidence that topical use of this novel technology provides comparable results to other technologies that use traditional growth factors for skin rejuvenation, with an additional potential benefit of improved skin elasticity.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2016;15(4):457-464.


The importance of growth factors and cytokines in wound healing has been well established1; mechanistic insights from this research have also been leveraged to understand of the roles of these growth factors in skin rejuvenation. 2 The cell lysate of cultured human fetal fibroblasts (PSP®; by NEOCUTIS, Merz North America, Inc.) is a foundational technology that has enabled incorporation of growth factors and cytokines into topical skincare products.3 tabSeveral clinical studies have shown that topical PSP use reduces the appearance of wrinkles around the eyes, mouth and nasolabial areas and may help to improve skin texture.2,3
Further development of skin rejuvenation technologies for topical use has been stimulated by an increased understanding of the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in skin aging. The ECM plays an important role in the regulation of many tissue functions, including the coordination of biochemical and biomechanical signals required for tissue maintenance and repair.4 The dermal ECM is composed of mainly 5 key components that have been established to influence skin aging: collagens I, III, and VII; elastin; and hyaluronic acid.4,5 Collagen proteins form three-dimensional networks that support the structure, integrity, and function of the skin and are highly abundant (~90% of the dry weight of the dermis).4 Elastin is produced by skin fibroblasts and is the principal protein constituent of elastic fibers, which help the skin to resist sagging or loss of firmness.6,7 Hyaluronic acid (HA) is important for moisture retention and provides volume and firmness in the dermis.8
Intrinsic (chronological) and extrinsic (environmental) aging can cause defects in these key components of ECM, leading to visible consequences for the skin, such as fine lines and wrinkles; loss of volume, firmness and elasticity; and increased skin roughness, dullness, and dryness.7 Daily exposure to environmental stresses (eg, sun exposure, smoking, pollution) often accelerates these effects.9,10 Skin degradation results in the formation of peptide fragments through proteolysis of ECM proteins. These naturally occurring fragments are called matrikines, which are low molecular weight peptides that exert effects similar to growth factors and cytokines.11,12
Recently a novel technology has been developed to promote key components of the ECM repair processes through the topical application of specific matrikines; micro-protein complex technology (MPC™ by NEOCUTIS, Merz North America, Inc) includes a proprietary blend of 3 select matrikines and matrikine- like oligopeptides designed to address the visible signs of skin aging by targeting the ECM. Because matrikines are much smaller than growth factors, they penetrate the skin faster and are more easily absorbed than traditional cytokines and growth