Scientists at the School of Life Sciences , Kingston University in London examined the ability of 21 plants to inhibit the enzymes collagenase and elastase. Collagenase breaks down the body's collagen and elastase breaks down the body's elastin. Elastin is a protein in connective tissue that is elastic. Elastin allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched. Elastin is also an important load-bearing tissue in the body. Elastin with Collagen determines the mechanical properties of the body's connective tissues .
Owing to their roles in tissue remodeling (healing and protection) in health and disease, several studies have reported investigations on plant extracts as inhibitors of different enzymes that break down the body's proteins (in this case elastin and collagen). The anti-ageing and anti-oxidant properties of 23 plant extracts (from 21 plant species) were assessed as anti-elastase and anti-collagenase activities and in selected anti-oxidant assays along with phenolic content.
Anti-elastase activities were observed for nine of the extracts with inhibitory activity in the following order: white tea (approximately 89%), cleavers (approximately 58%), burdock root (approximately 51%), bladderwrack (approximately 50%), anise and angelica (approximately 32%). Anti-collagenase activities were exhibited by sixteen plants of which the highest activity was seen in white tea (approximately 87%), green tea (approximately 47%), rose tincture (approximately 41%), and lavender (approximately 31%). Nine plant extracts had activities against both elastase (E) and collagenase (C) and were ranked in the order of white tea (E:89%, C:87%), better than bladderwrack (E:50%, C:25%), better than cleavers (E:58%, C:7%), better than rose tincture (E:22%, C:41%), better than green tea (E:10%: C:47%), rose aqueous (E: 24%, C:26%), angelica (E:32%, C:17%), anise (E:32%, C:6%), pomegranate (E:15%, C:11%).
Total phenolic content varied between 0.05 and 0.26 mg gallic acid equivalents (GAE)/mL with the exception of white tea which had a much higher antioxidant content (0.77 mg GAE/mL). For anti-oxidant assessment, the Trolox equivalent anti-oxidant capacity (TEAC) assay revealed activity for all extracts. White tea had the highest antioxidant activity.
A high activity for white tea was also found in the superoxide dismutase (SOD) assay in which it exhibited ~88% inhibition of reduction of nitroblue tetrazolium; a measure of powerful antioxidant activity for organs within the body. High activities were also observed for green tea (86.41%), rose tincture (82.77%), witch hazel (82.05%) and rose aqueous (73.86%).
From a panel of twenty three plant extracts, some one dozen exhibit high or satisfactory anti-collagenase or anti-elastase activities, with nine having inhibitory activity against both enzymes. These included white tea which was found to have very high phenolic content, along with high TEAC and SOD activities. The study is published in the August 2009 issue of the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine .
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