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The Science of ATP + Skin

ATP has been coined the “universal energy currency of life” and for good reason.

ATP, also known as Adenosine Triphosphate, is an important molecule that plays a key role in the functioning of all the cells of the body. For our skin, ATP is essential for nearly every aspect of skin health. This is because ATP is needed to produce every cell, protein, lipid, and DNA that composes the skin. Without ATP, every skin cell would become non-functional and die.

When we are young our skin is provided with a near perfect blood circulation that allows the skin cells to produce ATP. However, as we age the blood circulation to the skin decreases and the skin cells cannot produce sufficient levels of ATP. As a result, the proteins, lipids, and other essential parts of skin cells cannot be made as efficiently resulting in signs of aged skin such as wrinkles, fine lines, discoloration, and thinning of the skin. Because ATP can only be made by our skin cells, the underlying problem of restoring ATP levels in aged skin has not been addressed. Using our patented ATP delivery method, our technology helps to replenish these levels and promote healthy cell function, improving the overall health and appearance of your skin.

Role of ATP in Skin Health

Cell Proliferation | Cell Division and Multiplication

All three layers of the skin (dermis, epidermis, and subcutaneous tissue) are constantly undergoing cell turnover, which means the older cells are being replaced by a process called mitosis (or cell division). This process is dynamic, the epidermis is constantly renewed by the production of new cells. Typically, from the time a cell undergoes mitosis to the time it is shed from the epidermal surface is roughly 30 days [1].

During mitosis, cells must make copies of the genetic material (or DNA) inside of the nucleus, so that when the cell divides there is an identical cell. ATP is critical for this process because it is a requirement to make the building blocks of DNA itself and is also a key component to the assembly of DNA [2]. Large amounts of ATP are needed to make the proteins and lipids that comprise the new cells. There is an energy requirement (i.e., ATP) by the cell during the cell division process. All of the structures within the cell (organelles) require energy input as it is critical for their functionality.

Maintenance of the Transdermal Barrier | Skin Protection

The skin is the largest organ in the human body. The epidermis plays key roles in the protection of the under-layers of skin, muscle, fat, and subsequent
circulatory system. Protection against harmful substances and microorganisms from entering the body is vital. Extracellular ATP plays a critical role in maintaining the epidermis [3]. If the epidermal layers are disturbed by a cut for example, there is a tremendous requirement for ATP. ATP is required for the rapid development of cells to fill in the wound area as well as a function as a signal for the stages of wound healing [4]. If this process does not occur rapidly, the damaged area could result in an infection and further damaged tissues.



Cell Homeostasis | Equilibrium and Balance

All skin cells are constantly trying to maintain homeostasis (or an equilibrium), without a healthy balance, cells would die. An example would be a healthy balance of water content in a cell; too much water and the cell would swell and burst but too little and the cell becomes shriveled and dehydrated, both effect the cell’s functionality negatively.

Cells must be able to adapt to changes in their environment, otherwise they are susceptible to damage. Epidermal skin cells especially are under constant threats to homeostasis because of the near constant contact from multiple sources; physical damage, chemicals applied to the skin, air pollution [5], and UV damage. ATP is the central player in maintaining homeostasis [6], as it is used to maintain ion balance across cell membranes, produce proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids to counteract damage from these exposures.

Cell Signaling | Cell Communication

Skin cells are constantly sending out messages to other cells to control structure and function. When the skin is damaged, skin cells burst open and ATP is released into the surrounding tissue. The extracellular ATP acts as a hormone and binds to neighboring cells resulting in production of cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors that start the healing process [7]. ATP also binds to nerve cells in the skin to help mediate the pain response from wounds [8]

Maintenance of the Extracellular Matrix | Collagen, Elastin, and Hyaluronic Acid

In healthy skin, there are proteins and proteoglycans that are produced by fibroblasts and other cells that help maintain the structure and suppleness of skin. Fibroblasts make two central proteins in the skin architecture, collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, and the balance of these components is determined by the level of ATP in the skin [9].

As the skin ages, it begins to lose mitochondria due to decreased dermal blood flow. Mitochondrial loss is detrimental to the health of the skin as this is where ATP is manufactured within a cell. The decrease in fibroblast ATP
levels affects the turnover of collagen and elastin, resulting in a shift towards more collagen and less elastin [10]. This transition leads to the skin losing tone and becoming wrinkled.

Oxygen Radical Formation and Reduction | ATP Production and Antioxidant Effects

Skin cells use oxidative phosphorylation to produce large quantities of ATP. However, the production of ATP by this mechanism results in the production of an oxygen radical. In healthy skin, the oxygen radical is captured by antioxidants, but in unhealthy or aged skin the ability to capture the radicals is reduced and damage to cells occurs. This damage can lead to sagging, brittle skin [11].

Applying ATP topically provides two-fold benefits; 1) ATPv reduces the reliance on cellular production of ATP and 2) ATPv reduces cell production of harmful oxygen radicals.


[1] Alberts, B., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Raff, M., Roberts, K., & Walter, P. (2002). Epidermis and its renewal by stem cells. In Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th edition. Garland Science.
[2] Sreedhar, A., Aguilera-Aguirre, L. & Singh, K.K. (2020). Mitochondria in skin health, aging, and disease. Cell Death Dis 11, 444
[3] Greig, A. V., Linge, C., Terenghi, G., McGrouther, D. A., & Burnstock, G. (2003). Purinergic receptors are part of a functional signaling system for proliferation and differentiation of human epidermal keratinocytes. Journal of investigative dermatology, 120(6).
[4] Mo, Y., Sarojini, H., Wan, R., Zhang, Q., Wang, J., Eichenberger, S., Kotwal, G. J., & Chien, S. (2020). Intracellular ATP Delivery Causes Rapid Tissue Regeneration via Upregulation of Cytokines, Chemokines, and Stem Cells. Frontiers in pharmacology, 10, 1502.
[5] Araviiskaia, E., Berardesca, E., Bieber, T., Gontijo, G., Sanchez Viera, M., Marrot, L., & Dreno, B. (2019). The impact of airborne pollution on skin. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 33(8), 1496-1505.
[6] Mallouk, Y. A. S. M. I. N. A., Vayssier-Taussat, M. U. R. I. E. L., Bonventre, J. V., & Polla, B. S. (1999). Heat shock protein 70 and ATP as partners in cell homeostasis. International journal of molecular medicine, 4(5), 463-537.
[7] Burnstock, G. (2006, April). Purinergic signalling—an overview. In Purinergic Signalling in Neuron–Glia Interactions: Novartis Foundation Symposium 276 (pp. 26-53). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
[8] Hamilton SG, Warburton J, Bhattacharjee A, Ward J, McMahon SB. ATP in human skin elicits a dose-related pain response which is potentiated under conditions of hyperalgesia. Brain. 2000 Jun;123 ( Pt 6):1238-46
[9] Higuchi, T., Tamura, S., Tanaka, K., Takagaki, K., Saito, Y., & Endo, M. (2001). Effects of ATP on regulation of galactosyltransferase-I activity responsible for synthesis of the linkage region between the core protein and glycosaminoglycan chains of proteoglycans. Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 79(2), 159-164.
[10] Dupont, E., Gomez, J., Léveillé, C., & Bilodeau, D. (2010). From hydration to cell turnover: an integral approach to antiaging. Cosmetics & Toiletries, 125(8), 50.
[11] Papaccio, F., D Arino, A., Caputo, S., & Bellei, B. (2022). Focus on the Contribution of Oxidative Stress in Skin Aging. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 11(6), 1121.