Ectoin - What is it and what does it do?

What is Ectoin?

Ectoin is a substance that is found in many bacteria, especially in large proportions in the so-called halophilic (salt-loving) species. It protects these bacteria against extreme conditions such as UV radiation, high salt concentrations or temperature fluctuations[1].

Fig. 1 The Ectoin Zwitterion

What is Ectoin chemically ?

Ectoin is a so-called cyclic amino acid, i. It is a ring shaped amino acid. Dissolved as zwitterion, the carboxylic acid being negatively charged and one of the nitrogens positively charged. This property accounts for most of the effects of Ectoin. It has a strong hydratating effect, which is transferred to surrounding molecules, so u.a. on biopolymers such as proteins and the DNA. It does not bind itself, nor does it enter the cell itself, which does not interfere with metabolism[2].

What are properties of Ectoin?

The Ectoin moisturizes through hydration, and stabilizes the structures of biopolymers. It is produced by fermentation (Fermantativ), with the help of Halomonas elongata bacteria. It is used in medicine for irritation and inflammation of the skin and mucous membranes to relieve them. It is also used in cosmetics to protect the skin from stress-related damage, e.g. UV radiation, drought or fine dust to protect. People with ectoin hypersensitivity should avoid using ectoin, otherwise side effects may occur with the exact opposite effect, including: strong burning on the skin. In biochemistry, ectoine is also used to obtain proteins, nucleic acids and other biopolymers [3].

What do ecto-containing cosmetics do and are they really helpful?

Cosmetics with Ectoin can reduce wrinkles and prevent new ones from forming. It moisturizes the skin and protects it from environmental influences. Ectoin also relieves skin irritation and inflammation, without interfering with the metabolism. However, people with Ectoin hypersensitivity should avoid using Ectoin. So it is advisable to clarify in advance if you have such a hypersensitivity before using Ectoinhaltige cosmetics. If one does not have such a hypersensitivity, Ectoin has virtually no disadvantages[4].

Sources:

Wikipedia[1][4]

Scientific article on the cell-protecting properties of Ectoin[2][3]

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