Helix aspersa extract

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



Araújo LU, Grabe-Guimarães A, Mosqueira VC, Carneiro CM, Silva-Barcellos NM. 2010. Profile of wound healing process induced by allantoin. Acta Cirúrgica. Brasileira. 25: 7-10.

Brieva A, Philips N, Tejedor R, Guerrero A, Pivel JP, Alonso-Lebrero JL, Gonzalez S. 2008. Molecular basis for the regenerative properties of a secretion of the mollusk Cryptomphalus aspersa. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 21(1):15-22.

Conte R. 2016. Recent advances on nano delivery of Helix mucus pharmacologically active components. Int. J. Nano Dimens.; 7(3): 181-185.

Conte R. 2015. Heliciculture: Purpose and economic perspectives in the European community. IST Journal. Spring 2015.

Ditre, C.M., Griffin, T.D., Murphy, G.F. 1996. Effects of alpha hydroxy acids on photoaged skin: a pilot clinical, histological and ultrastructural study. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 34, 187–195.

Gus’kov EP, Kletskii ME, Kornienko IV, Olekhnovich LP, Chistyakov VA, Shkurat TP, Prokof’ev VN, Zhdanov Y. 2002. Allantoin as a free-radical scavenger. Dokl Biochem Biophys; 383:105-7.

Penazzi G. 2010. Helix aspersa Potenziali proprietà ed usi in cosmesi del secreto di Helix aspersa o bava di lumaca. Cosmetic Technology, 13(4): 25-28.

Shestopalov AV, Shkurat TP, Mikashinovich ZI, Kryzhanovskaia IO, Bogacheva MA, Lomteva SV, Prokof’ev VP, Gus’kov EP. 2006. Biological functions of allantoin. Izv Akad Nauk Ser Biol;(5):541-5.

Tsoutsos D, Kakagia D, Tamparopoulos K. 2009. The efficacy of Helix aspersa Müller extract in the healing of partial thickness burns: a novel treatment for open burn management protocols. J Dermatolog Treat.;20(4):219-22.

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