© Whole Foods Magazine

June 2005

Clinical Study Confirms the Role of OSA in Skin Appearance:

An interview with Drs. Dirk Vanden Berghe and Andre Barel: Part 3

By Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D. and Richard Passwater, Jr.


This month we continue with our discussion of the role of silicon as stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSA). A new clinical study shows that in just 20 weeks, shallow wrinkles improved by up to 30% and skin elasticity improved by 55%, as well as a significant reduction of brittleness in nails and hair. In April, we discussed the role of silicon in skin appearance. Now we will look at the details of the latest study.

Dr. Dirk Vanden Berghe is a professor on the Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. He is also the holder of various international patents on antimicrobial compounds and food supplements and has authored more than 250 international publications with peer review. Professor Vanden Berghe is also an internationally recognized expert on the biological activities of flavonoids and other natural compounds.

Professor André O. Barel is head of the Laboratory of General and Biological Chemistry and professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Oral Biochemistry, and Cosmetic Sciences, at the Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Free University of Brussels (VUB), Belgium. He is the author of numerous book chapters, publications, and abstracts in dermato-cosmetic sciences and is a member of the executive committee of the International Society for Bioengineering and the Skin and the Société Francophone d’Ingérie Cutanée. He is also a consultant for international dermatological and cosmetic companies.


Passwater and Passwater: Let’s look at the new ch-OSA skin study. Different aspects of the study have been reported at two scientific conferences, one in October 2004 and the other in February 2005. The study has been submitted for publication. Please give our readers a brief overview.


Barel: We completed a 20-week double-blind study1,2 using 50 women, ages 40 to 65, who had clear signs of sun-damaged or prematurely aging skin. Half of the women received 10 mg of biologically active silicon in the form of choline-stabilized OSA, the other half were given a placebo. The ch-OSA group experienced a significant improvement in skin parameters over the placebo group: including micro-wrinkles (up to 30% better), improved skin mechanical properties (55% better) and a significant reduction of brittleness in hair and nails. The improvement in skin parameters could be a result of a regeneration or de novo synthesis of collagen fibers. As previously mentioned, silicon is reported to have a critical role in the GAG network, the building blocks present in all connective tissues, including the skin.


Passwater and Passwater: Why did you select women with obvious signs of sun-damaged skin or prematurely aged skin?


Barel: Many changes occur in skin over time. The major changes in the skin that occur with age are a loss of elasticity and a reduction in its protective function. These changes in skin are often broadly categorized as being a part of the normal aging process, which is usually referred to as “intrinsic (true) aging.” Intrinsic aging results in subtle but important alterations of cutaneous function that are presumed to be due to time alone.

Photo-aging however is due to preventable chronic exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation superimposed on intrinsic aging. Premature aging of the skin due to excessive exposure to UV light, either from the sun or/and from tanning salons, is an increasing problem.

Selecting women with obvious signs of photo-damage enabled us to study the effect of ch-OSA on prematurely-aged skin.


Passwater and Passwater: Skin wrinkling has always been difficult to measure with precision. What technique was used to access microrelief and changes in microrelief?


Barel: A non-invasive validated method was used for evaluation of microrelief of the skin on the forearm, at baseline and after 20 weeks supplementation.

Skin microrelief was measured with the trademarked Skin Visiometer (Courage-Khazaka) using thin, blue dyed silicon replicas. Different standard roughness parameters are immediately available. For example, Rm represents the depth of the main wrinkle. As you can see in the following figure this roughness parameter decreases for the ch-OSA group (-19%) and increases for the placebo group (+ 11%).


Figure 10: Change in roughness parameter in ch-OSA and placebo group after 20 weeks supplementation. A statistical significant improvement was observed after ch-OSA supplementation.


Passwater and Passwater: What precision can be expected with this technique?


Barel: Previous studies performed by the group of Professor Vera Rogiers validated this technique by studying a number of methodological, environmental and subject-linked parameters.3 The precision of the measurements was particularly good between 10 µm and 361 µm. The sensitivity of the method was between 10 and 20 µm.

Furthermore, the Visiometer measurements in our study were performed by the same researchers who validated the technique.


Passwater and Passwater: What were the results of your studies with regard to reducing the rate of wrinkling?


Barel: After 20 weeks of ch-OSA supplementation, skin degradation at microrelief level decreases. We found that the results were significant, statistically speaking (p<0.05), when comparing the rate of microwrinkle progression between those taking ch-OSA and the controls, who were not taking ch-OSA. After 20 weeks, members of the control group continued to develop wrinkles at their previous rate, whereas the ch-OSA group did not continue to develop wrinkles but instead had actually reduced their wrinkles present at the time of the start of the study. The performance of subjects in the ch-OSA group was up to 30% better than placebo.


Passwater and Passwater: Skin elasticity is important. Skin looks better when it is tight and resilient, but not stiff. Stiff skin is a sign of damaged skin often caused by sun damage. This can be readily demonstrated by pulling away a pinch of skin and timing how long it takes to snap back. The skin of the back of the hand is highly exposed to the sun and it is stiffer than skin on the buttocks of the same person. The back of the necks of farmers and fishermen are often leathery due to sun damage. Undamaged skin is more resilient which helps keep it firm. Was skin elasticity also examined in your new studies? If so, how was it measured?


Barel: Yes, visco-elastic properties of the skin on the forehead were measured with the trademarked Reviscometer (Courage-Khazaka). The measuring principle of the Reviscometer is based on resonance running time. The time to propagate from transmitter to receiver is measured (shear wave propagation time). This parameter is depending on the direction of the collagen fibers. Therefore, two measurements are made in a different angle i.e. longitudinal versus lateral measurement. The difference between the longitudinal and lateral shear wave propagation time is evaluated and is an indicator of skin photo-aging.

From these measurements we could conclude that the skin visco-elastic properties are improved in the ch-OSA group (55% better than the placebo)


Passwater and Passwater: What can we conclude from your new study?


Barel: We found statistically significant improvement of skin surface texture and skin visco-elastic properties with oral ch-OSA supplementation. In addition, we found a significant reduction of brittleness in hair and nails.


Passwater and Passwater: Well, that is of interest too. In practical terms, in what forms is OSA available commercially?


Vanden Berghe: ch-OSA is available in vegetarian capsules or as a liquid in 30 ml dropper bottles.


Passwater and Passwater: Thank you Dr. Vanden Berghe and Dr. Barel for walking us through the physiology of silicon and skin health. WF



1.Barel et al. (2004) Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photo-damaged facial skin, Skin Research and Technology, 10: 1.

2. Barel et al. (2005) Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photo-damaged facial skin. The Journal of the Academy of Dermatology, Suppl., 3 (52): 28.

3. De Paepe et al. (2000) Microrelief of the skin using a light transmission method. Arch Dermatol Res, 292: 500-510


© 2005 Whole Foods Magazine and Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.

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