A Rose Extract Protects the Skin against Stress Mediators: A Potential Role of Olfactory Receptors


  • Duroux Romain
  • Mandeau Anne
  • Guiraudie-Capraz Gaëlle
  • Quesnel Yannick
  • Loing Estelle


Olfactory receptors (ORs) are expressed and active in various human tissues, including the skin. Although the sense of smell plays an important physiological role in the regulation of mood and stress, a link between olfactive compounds, ORs, and skin stress has yet to be established. This study aims to investigate the role of newly identified skin ORs and agonists in the modulation of skin stress. Screening for odorant molecules was done with cAMP functional assay to identify OR agonists. RT-qPCR and immunofluorescence microscopy were conducted to identify and quantify ORs in epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs) and human skin explants, as well as to evaluate specific markers (G6PDH, loricrin, and γH2AX) of stress-induced skin alterations. A randomized double-blinded, split-face clinical study was performed on a panel of stressed women to measure the benefits of OR agonist treatment for skin. Three new ORs (OR10A6, OR2AG2, and OR11H4) were identified in skin. A specific Rose extract and its major constituent (phenylethyl alcohol) were found to activate these ORs. The extract composition was revealed by both GC/FID and GC/MS analyses simultaneously and showed the presence of 34 volatiles molecules. Moreover, epinephrine induces a skin stress response characterized by increased expression of G6PD, loricrin, and γH2AX biomarkers, and a decrease of OR expression. These effects were prevented in the presence of rose extract and its benefits were confirmed clinically by a decrease in the appearance of under-eye dark circles. Altogether, our findings suggest that ORs may represent a new, promising way to treat stress-associated skin disorders.

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