Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Are dead cells really dead?

I heard this expression before: "The game ain't over until it's over." Superficial skin cells seems to play by the exact same rule. These soldier cells, the name I prefer to call them, are conveniently named dead cells. The reason, and I am theorizing here, is probably because the majority of them just happen to be on their final destination. Although these cells are not necessarily dead, one may say they are about to end their relationship with the skin. These top skin cell layers are one of the most unappreciated in the human body. We just don't give them the respect and admiration for their unique role of preventing or, at least, alerting upcoming younger cells of what lays ahead of them. Their unique role is to be our first line of defense for our bodies. These cells are partially cornified and deformed, however, their internal circuitry still able to transmit signals. The transmitted signals travel through their bodies in emergency "frequency" that alert younger cells of an imminent danger. Danger like how much pressure, heat, cold, toxicity, or abrasiveness. Those waves of information are rapidly passed along in fractions of seconds so the brain can act in timely manner.

These cells are also known to engage in suicidal missions when they "feel" that self-detachment from the main organ would prevent further physical damage to younger ones, as in the case of a burn or bacteria invasion. They are really good at transforming solar energy into many uses for the main body. Just as cells plants are able to transform sun energy into photosynthesis, our top layer of skin cells does a similar job. But because we are more sophisticated living beings in some senses, we demand and expect a lot more from our skin cells. Sometime these demands can certainly get us in trouble as in the case of dangerous sunbathing, excessive dehydration due to smoking or alcohol intake, neglect related to a stressful life, or simply the excessive use of cosmetics.

Even pores must rely on these cells. Pores are in charge of supplying proper moisture and keeping the skin surface cool. They could not get their job done if it would not be for our dedicated friends. When superficial skin cells begin "feeling" harsher condition like extreme dryness, they sound an "alarm" demanding immediate action from the pores to produce oil, sweat or the combination of both. In our teenage years and referring specifically to our face, the skin and its large networks of supportive tissues can produce an excess of oil and sweat causing to over enrich their delicate environment. This might create havoc on the surface. Too much of a good thing can generally give life or attract undesirable creatures like bacteria. Of  course, do not blame your superficial skin cells for this mess. Honestly, they are still doing their job. What contradicts their functions most of the time is that the brain is too busy handling a revolution of hormones and an overwhelming shifting of emotional period. In this period of growth, our brain may not attend to skin cells' request and simply might misinterpret their needs. You see, their living environment is known as Protective Acid Mantle and it most meet certain requirements to act as a shield. This Mantle, and I'm using my own interpretation, is the source of many surviving elements that superficial skin cells must have and count on every second.  It is like a bioelectrochemical mantle, providing energy through the use of organic waste mainly coming from the pores. This mantle supports nutritional needs, provides information like latest warning attacks from foreign matter, survival awareness updates, gene expression inputs and many others unknown factors that are deemed essential for the entire community of billions and billions of superficial cells. I will explain in another article these mechanics of how superficial cells interact and get in conflict with their Protective Acid Mantle. Make sure you stay tune.

Now, if so far you are still unconvinced why these "dead" marvelous things deserve some love and  respect, wait until I briefly describe their ultimate and most noble function. These dry leaves, as what they resemble through a powerful microscope, are in charge of laying out working  and surviving plans for future cell generation. Skin cells like any other cells in our bodies rely immensely on information coming from other cells. Even before detaching from mother skin, these older cells "teach" and alter the probability pattern of behaviour of younger cells. By recruiting, promoting and fostering adaptive fashion, older and experienced skin cells perpetuate a legacy of behaviour that plays a profound effect on their daily life as well as ours. They just don't quit and leave mother skin. They are also making sure they pass down their life experiences to a new generation. 

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