Elastin is a protein which gives the skin and various body organs their elastic abilities (hence the name!). The reason the skin is tight and can regain its shape after being stretched is the presence of elastin.
It is abundant in the extracellular matrix beneath the skin and surrounding connective tissues and organs like the lungs, heart, intestines, and blood vessels (for instance, 30-50 percent of the aorta is made of elastin). The protein is mainly composed of amino acids like glycine, proline and valine.
This protein is produced throughout the body's development and is often at its peak during teenage years. The elastin content in the body begins to reduce as we age. However, it is one the most durable proteins in the skin, with a half-life of around seventy years.
Insufficient elastin can result in wrinkling. It can also lead to some diseases including atherosclerosis (as a result of elastin deficiency in major blood vessels) and emphysema which is caused by elastin deficiency in the lungs.
As mentioned earlier, elastin levels reduce with aging. However, hormonal changes, environmental toxins, stress, poor nutrition, temperature extremes, under skin fat loss, and smoking can reduce or damage elastin in the body.
Loss of elastin in the skin results in a thin and sagging skin that is easily bruised and injured. The healing ability of the skin is also significantly reduced. The vitality of the hair follicles in the scalp is reduced too. It is, therefore, important to lead a healthy life to avoid damaging this essential protein and premature signs of aging.
Besides giving body organs their elasticity, elastin aids in tissue regeneration and wound healing, and can even be applied as part of topical gels.
Various studies done by experts have shown that some particular forms of elastin can find their way into the surface of the skin where they can be incorporated in the extracellular components of the skin cells.