Christa Raak, Friedrich Molsberger, Wolfgang Pittermann, Mathias Bertram, Sibylle Robens and Thomas Ostermann
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Observational studies of Mesem cream (based on Mesembryanthemum crystallinum L. plant extract) found that it had positive effects on skin hydration and smoothing of the skin. However, some patients reported skin irritation effects. The current study evaluated the skin tolerability of Mesem cream, as compared to the carrier cream (without the active ingredient), by using the isolated perfused bovine udder skin model. The primary outcomes investigated were cytotoxicity (i.e. cell viability), assessed with the MTT assay, and irritancy and inflammation, assessed by measuring PGE2 tissue levels. A total reaction score was calculated by combining the results for each parameter. In the case of a single topical application, significant differences were found between the carrier cream and the Mesem cream. While the application of carrier cream resulted in low cytotoxicity (–8.4% change in viability, as compared to the untreated control), the Mesem cream was more cytotoxic (–18.7% change). In addition, one hour after application, PGE2 levels were higher in Mesem cream-treated skin, as compared to carrier cream-treated skin (16.6% versus 11.3%). Further experiments (tape-stripped skin and repeated application) also found significant differences between the two creams in the results obtained. Evaluation of the effectiveness, safety and tolerability of phyto-cosmetic products is important. Our results confirmed the findings of two previous human observational studies (the human patch test and open application study). Future experiments to understand the underlying principles of its effectiveness, safety and tolerability should include extracts of M. crystallinum L. juice, as well as the Mesem cream itself.