Report Scientists Finally Know Why Tattoo Ink Lasts Even Though Skin Regenerates

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    If the skin regenerates itself every couple of weeks, then why do tattoos last for years? Sure, we know that tattoo ink is inserted into the layer right beneath the outermost layer of skin, but even the cells there must regenerate eventually. The seeming paradox of tattoo permanence has hurt the brains of even the most science-savvy ink enthusiasts. Fortunately, on Tuesday, a team of researchers report they’ve found a solution.

    In a paper published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, French scientists showed that tattoos stay in the skin because cells in the skin actively ensure the ink pigments stay in one place. The particles of ink pigment, they write, are repeatedly passed on from old cells to the new ones that are coming to replace them, sort of like an immune system relay race baton. The key finding is the identity of those cells: the macrophages, immune system cells that encapsulate foreign bodies like bacteria or tattoo pigments.

    “A lack of consensus regarding how to identify the immune cell types present in the skin has hampered the precise identification of the cells that capture the ink particles found in tattoo paste and retain them in situ for an extended period,” Sandrine Henri, Ph.D., and Bernard Malissen, Ph.D., both at the Immunology Centre of Marseille-Luminy in France, tell Inverse in a joint email. Henri and Malissen co-authored the paper along with 12 other researchers.

    Read more here. (Inverse)

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