Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The Role of Dimethylaminoethanol in Cosmetic Dermatology

Abstract

Skincare formulations for the improvement of aging skin are increasingly important consumer products. Here, we review available data on one such agent — 2-dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) or deanol — that has recently been evaluated in a placebo-controlled trial. DMAE is an analog of the B vitamin choline and is a precursor of acetylcholine. Although the role of acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter is well known, growing evidence points to acetylcholine as a ubiquitous cytokine-like molecule that regulates basic cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, locomotion, and secretion in a paracrine and autocrine fashion. Indeed, this modulatory role may contribute to the cutaneous activity of DMAE.

In a randomized clinical study, 3% DMAE facial gel applied daily for 16 weeks has been shown to be safe and efficacious (p < 0.05) in the mitigation of forehead lines and periorbital fine wrinkles, and in improving lip shape and fullness and the overall appearance of aging skin. These effects did not regress during a 2-week cessation of application. Beneficial trends (p > 0.05 but ≤ 0.1) were noted in the appearance of coarse wrinkles, under-eye dark circles, nasolabial folds, sagging neck skin, and neck firmness. Application was found to be well tolerated, with no differences in the incidence of erythema, peeling, dryness, itching, burning, or stinging between the DMAE and placebo groups. An open-label extension of the trial showed that the long-term application of DMAE gel for up to 1 year was associated with a good safety profile. The acute skin-firming effects of DMAE have been confirmed by quantitative measures of cutaneous tensile strength. In vitro studies in peripheral blood lymphocytes indicate that DMAE is a moderately active anti-inflammatory agent. Although its mechanisms of action in the skin remain to be elucidated, evidence suggests that the skin is an active site of acetylcholine synthesis, storage, secretion, metabolism, and receptivity. Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors have been localized to keratinocytes, melanocytes and dermal fibroblasts, whereas nicotinic acetylcholine receptors have been found in keratinocytes. The role of acetylcholine and the role of DMAE as a modulator of acetylcholine-mediated functions in the skin remain to be elucidated.

Thus, the benefits of DMAE in dermatology include a potential anti-inflammatory effect and a documented increase in skin firmness with possible improvement in underlying facial muscle tone. Studies are needed to evaluate the relative efficacy of DMAE compared with other skin-care regimens (e.g., topical antioxidant creams, α-hydroxy acids).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Table I
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Notes

  1. 1.

    The use of trade names is for product identification purposes only and does not imply endorsement.

References

  1. 1.

    Perricone N. The wrinkle cure: unlock the power of cosmeceuticals for supple youthful skin. Emmaus (PA): Rodale Press, 2000

  2. 2.

    Re O. 2-Dimethylaminoethanol (deanol): a brief review of its clinical efficacy and postulated mechanism of action. Curr Ther Res. 1974; 16 (11): 1238–42

  3. 3.

    Flood JF, Smith GE, Cherkin A. Memory retention: potentiation of cholinergic drug combinations in mice. Neurobiol Aging. 1983; 4 (1): 37–43

  4. 4.

    Saccar CL. Drug therapy in the treatment of minimal brain dysfunction. Am J Hosp Pharm. 1978; 35 (5): 544–52

  5. 5.

    Lewis JA, Young R. Deanol and methylphenidate in minimal brain dysfunction. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1975; 17 (5): 534–40

  6. 6.

    Artom C, Marietta C. Determination of dimethylaminoethanol in biological materials. Fed Proc. 1949; 8: 180–1

  7. 7.

    Wessler I, Kirkpatrick CJ, Racké K. Non-neuronal acetylcholine, a locally acting molecule, widely distributed in biological system: expression and function in humans. Pharmacol Ther. 1998; 77 (1): 59–79

  8. 8.

    Wessler I, Kirkpatrick CJ, Racké K. The cholinergic ‘pitfall’: acetylcholine, a universal cell molecule in biological systems, including humans. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 1999; 26 (3): 198–205

  9. 9.

    Haubrich DR, Gerber NH, Pflueger AB. Deanol affects choline metabolism in peripheral tissues of mice. J Neurochem. 1981; 37 (2): 476–82

  10. 10.

    Haubrich DR, Wang PF, Clody DE, et al. Increase in rat brain acetylcholine induced by choline or deanol. Life Sci. 1975; 17: 975–80

  11. 11.

    Grando SA, Kist DA, Qi M, et al. Human keratinocytes synthesize, secrete, and degrade acetylcholine. J Invest Dermatol. 1993; 101: 32–6

  12. 12.

    Data on file, Johnson & Johnson, 2000

  13. 13.

    Nagy I, Nagy K. On the role of cross-linking of cellular proteins in aging. Mech Ageing De. 1980; 14 (1-2): 245–51

  14. 14.

    Nagy I, Floyd RA. Electron spin resonance spectroscopic demonstration of the hydroxyl free radical scavenger properties of dimethylaminoethanol in spi n trapping experiments confirming the molecular basis for the biological effects of centrophenoxine. Arch Gerontol Geriar. 1984; 3 (4): 297–310

  15. 15.

    Nag K Dajk G Ura I, et al. Comparative studies on the free radical scavenger properties of two nootropic drugs, CPH and BCE-00. An n NY Acad. 1994; 717: 115–21

  16. 16.

    Zs-Nay I. Pharmacological interventions against aging through the cell plasma membrane: a review of the experimental results obtained in animals and human. Ann NY Acad. 2002; 959: 308–20

  17. 17.

    Grossmn, Gisoli, Coe C. Safety and efficacy evaluation of a new skin firming technology: dimethylethanol and tyrosine. 60th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Dermatology; 2002 Feb 22-27; New Orleans

  18. 18.

    Grossman RM, Gisoldi EM, Cole CA. Long-term safety and efficacy evaluation of a new skin firming technology: dimethylethanol. 60th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Dermatology; 2002 Feb 22-27; New Orleans

  19. 19.

    Uhoda I, Faska N, Robert C, et al. Split face study on the cutaneous tensile effect of 2-dimethylaminoethanol (deanol) gel. Skin Res Technol. 2002; 8 (3): 164–7

  20. 20.

    Hermanns-Lê T, Jonlet F, Scheen A, et al. Age and body mass index-related changes in cutaneous shear wave velocity. Exp Gerontol. 2001; 36: 363–72

  21. 21.

    Data on file, Johnson & Johnson, 1999

  22. 22.

    Grando SA, Horton RM. The keratinocyte cholinergic system with acetylcholine as an epidermal cytotransmitter. Curr Opin Dermatol. 1997; 4: 262–8

  23. 23.

    Arredondo J, Hall LL, Ndoye A, et al. Central role of fibroblast alpha3 nicotinic acerylcholine receptor in mediating cutaneous effects of nicotine. Lab Invest. 2003; 83 (2): 207–25

  24. 24.

    Grando SA, Kist DA, Qi M, et al. Human keratinocytes synthesize, secrete, and degrade acetylcholine. J Invest Dermatol. 1993; 101 (1): 32–6

  25. 25.

    Hoffmann K, Grate F, Wohlrab W, et al. Functional characterization of a high-affinity choline transport system in human keratinocytes. J Invest Dermatol. 2002; 119 (1): 118–21

  26. 26.

    Allard WJ, Sigal IS, Dixon RA. Sequence of the gene encoding the human MI muscarinic acetylcholine receptor. Nucleic Acids Res. 1987; 15 (24): 10604

  27. 27.

    Hosey MM. Diversity of structure, signaling and regulation within the family of muscarinic cholinergic receptors. FASEB J. 1992; 6 (3): 845–52

  28. 28.

    Mei L, Roeske WR, Yamamura HI. Molecular pharmacology of muscarinic receptor heterogeneity. Life Sci. 1989; 45: 1831–52

  29. 29.

    Grando SA, Zelickson BD, Kist DA, et al. Keratinocyte muscarinic acerylcholine receptors: immunolocalization and partial characterization. J Invest Dermatol. 1995; 104 (1): 95–100

  30. 30.

    Ndoye A, Buchli R, Greenberg B, et al. Identification and mapping of keratinocyte muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes in human epidermis. J Invest Dermatol. 1998; 111 (3): 410–6

  31. 31.

    Grando SA, Horton RM, Pereira EF, et al. A nicotinic acetylcholine receptor regulating cell adhesion and motility is expressed in human keratinocytes. J Invest Dermatol. 1995; 105 (6): 774–81

  32. 32.

    Grando SA. Receptor-mediated action in human skin. Int J Dermatol. 2001; 40: 691–3

  33. 33.

    Grando SA, Horton RM, Mauro TM, et al. Activation of keratinocyte nicotinic cholinergic receptors stimulates calcium influx and enhances cell differentiation. J Invest Dermatol. 1996; 107 (3): 412–8

  34. 34.

    Nguyen VT, Ndoye A, Hall LL, et al. Programmed cell death of keratinocytes culminates in apoptotic secretion of a humectant upon secretagogue action of acetylcholine. J Cell Sci. 2001; 114: 1189–204

  35. 35.

    Buchli R, Ndoye A, Arredondo J, et al. Identification and characterization of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes expressed in human skin melanocytes. Mot Cell Biochem. 2001; 228 (1-2): 57–72

  36. 36.

    Buchli R, Ndoye A, Rodriguez JG, et al. Human skin fibroblasts express m2, m4, and m5 subtypes of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. J Cell Biochem. 1999; 74 (2): 264–77

  37. 37.

    Kirkpatrick CJ, Bittinger F, Unger RE, et al. The non-neuronal cholinergic system in the endothelium: evidence and possible pathobiological significance. Jpn J Pharmacol. 2001; 85: 24–8

  38. 38.

    Grando SA. Biological functions of keratinocyte cholinergic receptors. J Invest Dermatol Symp Proc. 1997; 2: 41–8

  39. 39.

    Baumgartner MK, Wei J, Aronstam RS. Retinoic acid-induced differentiation of a human blastoma cell line alters muscarinic receptor expression. Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1993; 72: 305–8

  40. 40.

    Haddad EB, Rousell J, Mak JC, et al. Transforming growth factor-beta 1 induces transcriptional down-regulation of m2 muscarinic receptor gene expression. Mot Pharmacol. 1996; 49 (5): 781–7

  41. 41.

    Fisher GJ, Wong S, Varani J, et al. Mechanisms of photoaging and chronological skin aging. Arch Dermatol. 2002; 138: 1462–70

  42. 42.

    Varani J, Wagner RL, Gharaee-Kermani M, et al. Vitamin A antagonizes decreased cell growth and elevated collagen-degrading matrix metalloproteinases and stimulates collagen accumulation in naturally aged human skin. J Invest Dermatol. 2000; 114: 480–6

  43. 43.

    Kang S, Fisher GJ, Voorhees JJ. Photoaging: pathogenesis, prevention, and treatment. Clin Geriatr Med. 2001; 17 (4): 643–59, v–vi

  44. 44.

    El-Domyati M, Attia S, Saleh F, et al. Intrinsic aging vs photoaging: a comparative histopathological, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural study of skin. Exp Dermatol. 2002; 11 (5): 398–405

  45. 45.

    Pierard-Franchimont C, Cornil F, Dehavay J, et al. Climacteric skin ageing of the face: a prospective longitudinal comparative trial on the effect of oral hormone replacement therapy. Maturitas. 1999; 32 (2): 87–93

  46. 46.

    Clark III CP. New directions in skin care. Clin Plast Surg. 2001; 28 (4): 745–50

  47. 47.

    Katsambas AD, Katoulis AC. Topical retinoids in the treatment of aging of the skin. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1999; 455: 477–82

Download references

Acknowledgments

Dr Rachel Grossman is an employee of Johnson & Johnson and receives compensation, which includes common stock. Dr Grossman is also in private practice and has no other conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the contents of this review.

Author information

Correspondence to Dr Rachel Grossman.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Grossman, R. The Role of Dimethylaminoethanol in Cosmetic Dermatology. Am J Clin Dermatol 6, 39–47 (2005). https://doi.org/10.2165/00128071-200506010-00005

Download citation

Keywords

  • Acetylcholine
  • Tretinoin
  • DMAE
  • Facial Skin
  • Aging Skin