Porphyrins are molecules with a very important role in skin health. Porphyrins are molecules with a very important role in skin health. Understanding the role and properties of porphyrins allows us to harness their potential in the development of innovative skin care treatments, although much research remains to be done.

What are porphyrins?

They are chemical compounds belonging to a group of molecules known as macrocyclic heterocycles. These molecules are composed of rings of carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen atoms that are bonded together in a characteristic cyclic structure. The best known porphyrin is protoporphyrin IX.

What is the function of porphyrins?

Porphyrins have the ability to interact with visible and ultraviolet light. This unique property gives them a leading role in the biochemical processes occurring in our skin.

One of the main functions of porphyrins is their participation in the production and transport of oxygen in our body. They are essential in the formation process of hemoglobin, the protein responsible for transporting oxygen through the blood.

In addition, they are also key in the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for the color of our skin, hair and eyes. These molecules act as cofactors in the enzymes involved in melanin synthesis, thus contributing to the protection of our skin against the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

The role of porphyrins in the skin

In the skin, porphyrins can be found in melanocytes, sebaceous glands and hair follicles. These molecules are involved in skin homeostasis and in the skin’s immune system response.

It should be noted that porphyrins can have negative effects when their levels are not balanced or when they interact with light under certain circumstances.

In recent studies, porphyrins have been found to have photosensitizing properties, which means that they can react when exposed to light. In this case, when porphyrins absorb light energy, they can generate reactive oxygen species, such as singlet oxygen, which can damage surrounding cells.

However, this property has been exploited by the aesthetic medicine industry to use porphyrins in photodynamic therapies, in which, by combining these molecules with light, skin conditions such as acne or more serious conditions such as some types of cancer can be treated.

Commitment to quality

This text on porphyrins has been prepared by professional writers. In addition, we have relied on experts in medicine, engineering and aesthetics as a source of information, as well as specific studies to maintain the quality of what we publish.

At Sisneo Bioscience we are committed to publish truthful and contrasted information. And to update or correct it as soon as new knowledge becomes available.

Among others, we have used the following sources:

  • Moan J. «Porphyrin photosensitization and phototherapy» in Photochem Photobiol. 1986 Jun;43(6):681-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.1986.tb05647.x. PMID: 2944138.