Bioactive products from snail slime of Helix aspersa Müller have potential applications in preventing and/or treating several human diseases (Conte, 2016).
Thanks to its active components, H. aspersa mucus possesses skin-regenerative properties, induces fibroblast proliferation and rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton, increases extracellular matrix assembly and regulation of metalloproteinase activities, minimize the damage generated by free radicals (Conte, 2016; Brieva et al., 2008).
The qualitative-quantitative chemical analysis of snail mucus reveal the presence of allantoin (0.3 – 0.5%), collagen (0.01 – 0.3%), glycolic acid (0,05 – 0.4%), lactic acid (0,05 – 0.1%), anti-protease (1.3 – 1.8%), vitamins, trace minerals and a high content of glycine, hydroxyproline, proline and glutamic acid (Conte, 2016; 2015; Penazzi, 2010; internal analysis).
Allantoin is a free-radical scavenger and modulates the activities of enzymes involved in regulation of the reactive-oxygen species (ROS)-dependent status of an organism (Shestopalov et al., 2006; Gus’kov et al., 2002). It also has moisturizing and keratolytic effects: it is able to increase the water content of the extracellular matrix and the capacity to enhance the desquamation of upper layers of dead skin cells (Conte, 2016). Moreover, allantoin ameliorates the wound healing process, modulating the inflammatory response, and promotes fibroblast proliferation and synthesis of extracellular matrix (Araújo et al., 2010; Brieva et al., 2008).
Fibroblast proliferation is essential for wound healing, since the scar formation depends on cell migration and proliferation to replenish the tissue zones (Brieva et al., 2008). Also extracellular matrix assembly is a very important phenomenon during wound healing since matrix remodeling is a key step in fibroblast motility for wound healing and scar formation (Brieva et al., 2008).
Instead, glycolic acid enhances natural skin exfoliation and debridement (Conte, 2016; Tsoutsos et al., 2009). Moreover, it is efficacious in increasing skin elasticity; this action is probably due to the stimulation of collagen, elastin and mucopolysaccharid production in the skin deeper layers (Ditre et al., 1996).
aspersa slime regenerative properties depend not only on its capacity to induce fibroblast proliferation in vitro, but also to affect the morphology of human dermal fibroblasts, regulating cytoskeleton reorganization, to stimulate fibronectin secretion and assembly, and to downregulate matrix metalloproteinase expression in dermal fibroblasts (Brieva et al., 2008).
Moreover, Brieva et al. (2008) demonstrate that snail mucus possesses antioxidant abilities, both acting at the level of free radical production and sequestering free radicals.
Aspersa extract may be used as a natural, safe and effective alternative treatment in injured tissue regeneration.
Written by Dott.ssa Filomena De Biasio