Growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11) belongs to the TGF-β superfamily of proteins and is closely related to myostatin. Recent findings show that GDF11 has rejuvenating properties with pronounced effects on the cardiovascular system, brain, skeletal muscle, and skeleton in mice. Several human studies were also conducted, some implicating decreasing levels of circulating GDF11 with age. To date, however, there have not been any reports on its role in human skin. This study examined the impact of GDF11 on human skin, specifically related to skin aging. The effect of recombinant GDF11 on the function of various skin cells was examined in human epidermal keratinocytes, dermal fibroblasts, melanocytes, dermal microvascular endothelial cells and 3D skin equivalents, as well as in ex vivo human skin explants. GDF11 had significant effects on the production of dermal matrix components in multiple skin models in vitro and ex vivo. In addition, it had a pronounced effect on expression of multiple skin related genes in full thickness 3D skin equivalents. This work, for the first time, demonstrates an important role for GDF11 in skin biology and a potential impact on skin health and aging.

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Lee Rubin investigates the key molecular mediators of different neurodegenerative diseases, with the ultimate goal of finding effective preclinical therapeutic candidates.

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