Ergothioneine for cosmetics

Ergothioneine has been scientifically proven to help protect the skin from various oxidative stresses

Substance For Daily Skincare

EGT suppresses Oxidation Induced by UV radiation and outdoor factors

EGT, a rare amino acid, has a strong antioxidant effect, which protects our skin from stresses due to aging, UV, and chemical substances in the air; thus, it has recently attracted attention as a cosmetic material.

In the dermis, ROS induced by UV radiation promotes protease production  from fibroblasts. Then, the subsequent collagen fragmentation and reduction of functional elastic fibers lead to wrinkles and sagging [1,2]. Additionally, it is thought that melanin synthesis and lipid oxidation accompanied by ROS formation cause appearance of stains and dullness in our skin [3].

By eliminating UV irradiation-induced ROS production and others(Figure 1) [4], EGT inhibits MMP-1 expression, known as a proteolytic enzyme-mediating collagen I degradation/fragmentation, and protects the skin from photoaging.
Moreover, it is reported that EGT inhibits DNA damage by UV irradiation in epidermal keratinocytes [5].

Figure 1. Ergothioneine dose-dependently inhibits ROS generation

Human skin fibroblasts (HSF) were pretreated with EGT, and UVA-induced ROS was measured. DCFH2-DA is a fluorogenic reagent that measures ROS activity.

Oxid. Med. Cell Longev. (2020) 2020:2576823 [4]
Copyright © 2020 You-Cheng Hseu et al.

EGT is a powerful antioxidant against ROS

While vitamins A, C, E, and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) are known as popular antioxidants [6,7], EGT is a more efficient suppressor of ROS production(Figure 2 [8]).

Figure 2. Ergothioneine is a more efficient antioxidant than CoQ10

This study compared the inhibitory effects of EGT and CoQ10 on UV-induced lipid peroxide in HSF.

 J. Cosmet. Dermatol. (2007) 6:183-188 [8]

EGT resists heat and acid, thus it can be available for processing and long-term preservation, and considering high safety, it is expected to be used as a food antioxidant [9]. Furthermore, it can be widely applied as a cosmetic material in various skincare products.

Conventionally, EGT is extracted from natural sources, such as fungi, and it is difficult to get a stable supply in the global market. NAGASE has succeeded in developing a new technologyーN-STePP(N-STePP is the registered trademark of NAGASE & CO., LTD.) for dramatically improving EGT production. Henceforth, we will contribute to high-quality and inexpensive EGT production to the global market of cosmetic, food, and pharmaceutical industries.


  1. Shin, JW. Molecular mechanisms of dermal aging and antiaging approaches. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20:2126.
  2. Dumbuya,H., et al. Cross talk between calcium and ROS regulate the UVA-induced melanin response in human melanocytes. FASEB J. 2020,34:11605-11623.
  3. Lasch, J., et al. Oxidative damage of human skin lipids dependence of lipid peroxidation on sterol concentration. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1997,1349:171-181.
  4. Hseu, YC., et al. The Antiaging Activity of Ergothioneine in UVA-Irradiated Human Dermal Fibroblasts via the Inhibition of the AP-1 Pathway and the Activation of Nrf2-Mediated Antioxidant Genes. Oxid. Med. Cell. Longev. 2020, 2020:2576823.
  5. Hseu, YC.,et al. Dermato-protective properties of ergothioneine through induction of Nrf2/ARE-mediated antioxidant genes in UVA-irradiated Human keratinocytes.Free. Radic. Biol. Med. 2015, 86:102-117.
  6. Michalak,M., et al. Bioactive compounds for skin health: A Review. Nutrients.2021, 13:203.
  7. Knott, A., et al. Topical treatment with coenzyme Q10-containing formulas improves skin’s Q10 level and provides antioxidative effects. Biofactors.2015, 41:383-390.
  8. Dong, KK., A comparison of the relative antioxidant potency of L-ergothioneine and idebenone. J. Cosmet. Dermatol.2007, 6:183-188.
  9. Encarnacion, AF., et al.Effects of ergothioneine from mushrooms (Flammulina velutipes) on melanosis and lipid oxidation of kuruma shrimp. J. Agri. Food. Chem. 2010.58:2577-2585.
What is ergothioneine?

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