Study: Polyphenols in Olive Oil Boost Help Heal Damaged Skin

Polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil enhance the healing abilities of fibroblasts, opening up possibilities for novel wound healing applications.
By Paolo DeAndreis
May. 30, 2023 12:14 UTC

A new study found that cer­tain polyphe­nols in extra vir­gin olive oil enhanced the heal­ing actions of fibrob­lasts, cells essen­tial for form­ing con­nec­tive tis­sues.

Fibroblasts play a cru­cial role in repair­ing dam­aged skin from lesions or cuts. The research, pub­lished in Nutrients, paves the way for the future use of polyphe­nol-based appli­ca­tions to heal wounded skin.

We found that when exposed to the phe­no­lic com­pounds, the fibrob­lasts would migrate, which means that they would move to close the gap caused by the wound, ben­e­fit­ing their heal­ing action.- Lucía Melguizo-Rodríguez, researcher, University of Granada

Fibroblasts are the main cells in the skin and are involved in its regen­er­a­tion,” Olga García-Martínez, co-author of the study and researcher at the University of Granada’s health sci­ence depart­ment, told Olive Oil Times. They are essen­tial in repair­ing dam­aged skin.”

Lucía Melguizo-Rodríguez, another co-author and uni­ver­sity researcher, added that fibrob­lasts are cru­cial in extra-cel­lu­lar matrix recon­struc­tion.

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They release com­pounds which keep all of the skin com­po­nents together, they are the net keep­ing it all together, and that is why their action is so rel­e­vant,” she told Olive Oil Times.

The sci­en­tists focused on how fibrob­last behav­ior would be impacted by apply­ing hydrox­y­ty­rosol, tyrosol and oleo­can­thal, extra vir­gin olive oil’s most preva­lent polyphe­nols.

Those three phe­nols were cho­sen because pre­vi­ous research demon­strated their inter­est­ing behav­ior when applied to dif­fer­ent tis­sue cells, such as the osteoblasts, bone cells,” García-Martínez said. We sin­gled those three out as there were higher chances that they could stim­u­late soft tis­sue cells such as fibrob­lasts.”

The research high­lighted that those phe­no­lic com­pounds would stim­u­late fibrob­last growth when applied.

That is a very rel­e­vant result, as when the skin is wounded, stim­u­lat­ing the devel­op­ment of a higher num­ber of fibrob­lasts would result in bet­ter heal­ing,” Melguizo-Rodríguez said.

However, that was not the only result they observed, as polyphe­nols also affected fibrob­lasts’ behav­ior in vitro con­di­tions.

We found that when exposed to the phe­no­lic com­pounds, the fibrob­lasts would migrate, which means that they would move to close the gap caused by the wound, ben­e­fit­ing their heal­ing action,” Melguizo-Rodríguez.

On top of that, the growth of the fibrob­lasts observed by the researchers in the lab­o­ra­tory envi­ron­ment did not show any cel­lu­lar alter­ation.

When cel­lu­lar growth stim­u­la­tion ther­a­pies are applied, one poten­tial neg­a­tive out­come is the uneven growth of the cells them­selves, or cell muta­tions which might be dan­ger­ous,” the researchers explained.

That is why the sci­en­tists devel­oped an exper­i­ment high­light­ing how the cel­lu­lar growth stim­u­lated by polyphe­nols is safe.

One of the exper­i­ments focused on that and showed that the cells do not have any kind of DNA ane­u­ploidy, which means that they do not show any sign that those cells could be mutat­ing,” Melguizo-Rodríguez said.

The sci­en­tists high­lighted how their research is part of a grow­ing body of stud­ies focus­ing on polyphe­nols’ impact on human tis­sues and cell pro­files. Previous research found that other phe­nols in extra vir­gin olive oil also stim­u­lated fibrob­last pro­lif­er­a­tion and migra­tion.

See Also:The Facts About Olive Oil and Skin Care

Other stud­ies have also hinted at phe­nols’ role in reg­u­lat­ing the wound heal­ing process and their poten­tial pro­tec­tive action against age-related changes in fibrob­last.

However, the quest to use extra vir­gin olive oil as an effi­cient tool to heal wounds will require fur­ther stud­ies.

At the moment, we are inves­ti­gat­ing how the heal­ing prop­er­ties that we detect might be suc­cess­fully applied where needed,” García-Martínez. Examples of future solu­tions could be hydro­gels or creams.”

We now under­stand what hap­pens when you apply phe­nols to fibrob­lasts directly within a lab envi­ron­ment,” Melguizo-Rodríguez added. In real life, such as with a wound on the human skin, con­di­tions are quite dif­fer­ent.”

Directly apply­ing phe­nols to fibrob­lasts might be chal­leng­ing, as using extra vir­gin olive oil on the skin would only reach the very sur­face of the skin itself.

There are also other cell pop­u­la­tions [on the skin sur­face], so you can­not just apply extra vir­gin olive oil on your wounds; you need a [ves­sel] to trans­port the phe­nols where needed,” Melguizo-Rodríguez said.

The next step is to design a mech­a­nism in the lab­o­ra­tory with which we can effec­tively intro­duce the phe­nols,” García-Martínez added. Once that is accom­plished, we will be a step closer to craft­ing real-life appli­ca­tions derived from extra vir­gin olive oil,”

The researchers empha­sized that esti­mat­ing how long it will take to get to that step is impos­si­ble, as it also depends on research financ­ing.

Still, they explained that once that goal is reached, assess­ing the out­come of the new remedy’s appli­ca­tion will be nec­es­sary.

It is impor­tant to define and iden­tify poten­tial adverse effects even if we do not expect those to hap­pen,” Melguizo-Rodríguez said.

Developing a rem­edy that offers new options to doc­tors, nurses and patients address­ing skin wounds could also be sus­tain­ably sourced.

During olive pro­cess­ing, waste­water rich in polyphe­nols is com­monly dis­carded after olive oil pro­duc­tion,” Melguizo-Rodríguez con­cluded. It is inter­est­ing to iso­late the com­pounds we need within a raw mate­r­ial that is not cur­rently inter­est­ing for the mar­ket.”


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