What Is Adenosine?
Adenosine is a natural ingredient used in cosmetics and skincare products that are generally used for its anti-aging properties. Adenosine also helps to soothe skin and help support wound healing and the natural functioning of the skin.
Adenosine is a purine nucleoside composed of a molecule of adenine attached to a ribose sugar molecule. You may remember this ingredient as one of the four nucleotides that make up DNA and RNA from your high school biology classes.
Derivatives of adenosine are widely found in nature and play an important role in biochemical processes, including those of the skin. Adenosine is a relatively new ingredient in skincare formulations but has been used widely in medicine to help treat heart conditions and as an adjunct therapy for healing. While adenosine is naturally present throughout the human body, the adenosine used in cosmetics and personal care products is derived from yeast.
the good:Adenosine is an anti-aging ingredient that helps to soothe, restore, and improve the appearance of aging.
the not so good:Nothing to look out for here. Adenosine is a natural component of the body and doesn’t cause irritation or sensitivity.
Who is it for?All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.
Synergetic ingredients:Works well with most ingredients
Keep an eye on: Keep an eye on the other ingredients in the formulation if you have sensitivity or are prone to irritation.
What Are the Benefits of Adenosine?
In cosmetics and skincare products, adenosine has many uses. The main three are anti-aging, soothing, and healing.
Adenosine is primarily used for its ability to help improve the appearance of aging skin. Research has suggested that the topical application of adenosine can be an effective method for providing anti-aging benefits. It decreases the appearance of wrinkles by energizing the skin’s surface, resulting in a smoother, more youthful complexion. For this reason, adenosine is often found in anti-aging skincare products such as creams, serums, and night creams.
A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science evaluated the anti-wrinkle efficacy of adenosine-containing products. After two months, adenosine-containing products led to significant improvements in skin smoothness and decreased appearance of crow’s feet. Adenosine-containing cream also significantly improved the wrinkles between eyebrows.
One possible explanation for adenosine works to improve the appearance of wrinkles, and fine lines are through the collagen production pathway. Research indicates that adenosine, acting at the adenosine receptors, stimulates collagen matrix formation directly. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, muscles, and skin. Collagen plays a role in strengthening skin, plus may benefit elasticity and hydration. After the age of 20, a person produces about one percent less collagen in the skin each year. Moreover, environmental free radicals can degrade collagen proteins. Ingredients that may support the stimulation of collagen production, such as adenosine, can help maintain the skin’s strength and firmness.
The ability of adenosine to support the stimulation of collagen production also supports wound healing and tissue repair. Collagen is necessary for wounds to heal properly because it gives structure and strength to the skin. The topical application of adenosine is suggested to increase the rate at which wounds close in animals.
Furthermore, adenosine may provide anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting the inflammatory actions of neutrophils. For this reason, adenosine can be used in skincare products that are intended to treat minor scrapes, cuts, burns, and other injuries. Adenosine may also help to reduce irritation and redness that is often associated with sensitive skin types.
Lastly, research has indicated that adenosine may promote thickening of hair on people with thinning hair. Some studies have suggested that adenosine increases the anagen phase of hair growth and also increases the hair shaft diameter. Therefore, adenosine treatment may have benefits for hair growth and could potentially help people suffering from androgenic alopecia. It is crucial to keep in mind that this application of adenosine is not well-researched and more studies would have to be conducted before it could be indicated for this use.
Is Adenosine Safe?
The safety of adenosine as used in cosmetics and skincare formulations has been evaluated by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. This group is responsible for investigating the safety of skincare ingredients. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel is still conducting further research into this ingredient. As adenosine is relatively new to skincare formulations, the group is waiting for more data before a decision is made. However, the research cited in their review suggests that adenosine doesn’t cause any irritation and is expected to be safe for use in skincare and cosmetic formulations.
Levin, J, & Momin, S, 2010. ‘How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?’, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, vol. 3, is. 2, pp. 22-41. Cosmetic Ingredient Review, 2019. ‘Safety Assessment of Adenosine Ingredients as Used in Cosmetics’, International Journal of Toxicology.