Gene of the week: MMP1. The MMP1 gene is responsible for the generation of a matrix metalloproteinase enzyme, also known as interstitial collagenase. MMPs are involved in the breakdown of structures outside of the cells in normal physiological processes. Specifically, MMP-1 breaks down the interstitial collagens, types I, II, and III. The first type is the most prominent in the skin. It is responsible for giving the skin its firmness. In normal biochemistry, collagen is constantly broken down and build up again to renew it frequently. If the MMP-1 gene has a certain genetic variation, the breakdown of collagen happens too quickly because too much MMP1 is produced, and this may result in your skin losing its firmness and aging prematurely. Scientific research has identified several substances that block MMP1 and thus counteract your skin's genetically-accelerated aging process. This is important if you have the risk for too high MMP1 production. The risk genotype is denoted as G:G. This genotype is a little different than other genotypes, as it is not a code that is changed, but an extra code that is inserted. So some of the GenTest results will show del, rather than a letter. That means the extra code is not present and this does not result in extra disease risk. Lutein can be absorbed through diet and then it builds up in the skin, where it exerts its effect. Lutein inhibits the production of MMP1 and thus the collagen breakdown is slowed down. By knowing the status of your MMP1 gene, the optimum amount of lutein for your skin cream and your dietary supplements can be defined. Vitamin C can be applied to the skin in a cream that can reduce the MMP1 activity and therefore collagen breakdown. Vitamin E blocks a particular protein (protein kinase C), which increases the production of MMP1 with age. Through a correct dosage of vitamin E, the age-related gradual increase in MMP1 can thus be prevented. Alpha lipoic acid and phytosterols may also block the activity of MMP1 and thus slow down the breakdown of collagen. Now the optimum amount of these substances can be determined on the basis of your genetics and age. When applied regularly and in the correct amount, they will help the collagen to get into your skin and contribute to youthful skin.