Chronic exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation is a major cause for skin photoaging. UVB induces damage to skin mainly by oxidative stress, inflammation, and collagen degradation. This paper investigated the photo-protective effects of peptides from oyster (Crassostrea hongkongensis
) protein hydrolysates (OPs) by topical application on the skin of UVB-irradiated mice. Results from mass spectrometry showed that OPs consisted of peptides with a molecular weight range of 302.17–2936.43 Da. In vivo study demonstrated that topical application of OPs on the skin significantly alleviated moisture loss, epidermal hyperplasia, as well as degradation of collagen and elastin fibers caused by chronic UVB irradiation. In this study, OPs treatment promoted antioxidant enzymes (SOD and GPH-Px) activities, while decreased malondialdehyde (MDA) level in the skin. In addition, OPs treatment significantly decreased inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α) content, and inhibited inflammation related (iNOS, COX-2) protein expression in the skin. Via inhibiting metalloproteinase 1(MMP1) expression, OPs treatment markedly decreased the degradation of collagen and elastin fibers as well as recovered the altered arrangement of extracellular matrix network in the dermis of skin. Our study demonstrated for the first time that OPs protected against UVB induced skin photodamage by virtue of its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as regulating the abnormal expression of MMP-1. The possible molecular mechanism underlying OPs anti-photoaging is possibly related to downregulating of the MAPK/NF-κB signaling pathway, while promoting TGF-β production in the skin.
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