Cell-communicating ingredients, theoretically, have the ability to tell a skin cell to look, act, and behave better, more like a normal healthy skin cell would, or to stop other substances from telling the cell to behave badly or abnormally. They do this by either direct communication with the skin cell or by blocking damaging cellular pathways or other cell-communicating substances. Cell-communicating ingredients complement antioxidants to improve skin-cell function.
Cell communication is fundamental to all aspects of health. For all parts of our bodies to work properly, including skin cells, each cell must know how to perform the correct action at the correct time—and, hopefully, to ignore the information (in the form of messenger substances) that tells cells to do the wrong thing. This takes place through constant, ceaseless communication, with myriad substances telling cells how and when to function properly, and the cells then relaying that information to each other. When cells have a miscommunication, or when substances relaying bad information get through to the cell, all sorts of problems can take place. Every cell has a vast series of receptor sites for different substances. These receptor sites are the cell’s communication hookup. When the right ingredient for a specific site shows up, it has the ability to attach itself to the cell and transmit information. In the case of skin, this means telling the cell to start doing the things a healthy skin cell should be doing. If the cell accepts the message, the cell can then share the same healthy message with other nearby cells and so on and so on. As long as there is a receptor site and the appropriate, healthy signaling substance, a lot of good, healthy communication takes place. But a cell's communication network is more complex than any worldwide telephone system ever made. The array of receptor sites and the substances that can make connections to them make up a huge, complex, and varied group with incredible limitations and convoluted pathways that we are still finding out about.
And as far as skin care is concerned, it’s an area of research that's in its infancy. No doubt you will be hearing more and more about cell-communicating or cell-signaling ingredients being used in skin-care products, and the research is encouraging. Theoretically, this new horizon in skin care is incredibly exciting. For now, the skin-care ingredients to look for in terms of theoretical cell-communicating ability include retinol, retinaldehyde, retinoic acid, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, eicosapentaenoic acid, niacinamide, lecithin, linolenic acid, linolenic acid, phospholipids, carnitine, carnosine, adenosine triphosphate, adenosine cyclic phosphate, palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tripeptide-3 (and most other peptides), and pyrus malus (apple) fruit extract.
(Sources: Journal of Biological Chemistry, August 2007, pages 22964, 22976; Seminars in Immunopathology, April 2007, pages 15–26; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, December 2006, pages 2697–2706; Microscopy Research and Technique, January 2003, pages 107–114; Nature Medicine, February 2003, pages 225–229; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, March 2002, pages 402–408; International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, July 2004, pages 1141–1146; Experimental Cell Research, March 2002, pages 130–137; Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, September–October 2002, pages 316–320; and www.signaling-gateway.org).