Peptides are small protein units that have very important biochemical as well as physiological functions within living systems – plant, animal and microorganism systems alike. To consider these proteins only in their capacity as cosmetic components would be to vastly underestimate one of nature’s most vital ingredients.
Studies have shown that they contribute significantly to a number of physiological processes, including the makeup of enzymes, receptors, hormones and some antibiotics, all of which have protein components. Enzymes have become key ingredients in the drug industry, for the treatment and therapeutic intervention for various diseases, including psychological conditions like depression.
The peptide is a small molecules – they can have as few as two amino acids. The types, physical and chemical properties of peptides vary – depending on the specific amino acids that they contain and how these amino acids are constituted. The maximum number is 50; above 50, the structures are considered full proteins. During the lifespan of human beings, various factors cause one to start aging, not just on the skin, but throughout the body. With this process, the body produces fewer retinoids which mean less collagen and elastin production, which is what causes thinning on the skin and eventual fine lining and wrinkling.
During specific synthesis, one amino acid carboxyl group (COOH) joins to the adjacent amino acids amino group (NH2). The carboxyl group loses its hydroxyl ion (OH-) and the amino group loses a hydrogen ion (H+), which combine to form a water molecule. Because of that, the process is known as dehydration.
This is what happens during protein formation in living things, but it can also be readily simulated in a laboratory set-up in mock biological conditions. There are only two ways for these to be synthesized in a lab: liquid phase and solid phase synthesis.
They are classified according to how they function in a living system.
1. Hormones are responsible to intra-cellular and intercellular signal transfer to initiate specific reactions.
2. Alkaloids, which are found in shellfish, plant, and fungi, are defense molecules.
3. Antibiotics are small proteins designed to interfere with the way bacterial systems function, limiting their growth.
4. Neuropeptides are produced in nerve tissues and are important for signaling between cells located far apart from each other. Some industrially synthesized neuropeptides have been used to mimic the action of Botulinum neurotoxin (Botox) in the prevention of muscle contraction signals thereby relaxing the muscles. This is still under study, however.
5. Amino acids are important for cosmetology since they can relay a signal between the skin’s epidermal layer and the dermal layer. Age weakens the skin’s communications network, and help to make up for the deficit.