Topically Applied Ceramides Interact with the Stratum Corneum Lipid Matrix in Compromised Ex Vivo Skin.
ABSTRACT: PURPOSE:To determine whether formulations containing ceramides (including a ceramide with a long hydroxyl acyl chain linked to a linoleate, CER EOS) and fatty acids are able to repair the skin barrier by normalizing the lipid organization in stratum corneum (SC). METHODS:The formulations were applied on a skin barrier repair model consisting of ex vivo human skin from which SC was removed by stripping. The effect of formulations on the lipid organization and conformational ordering in the regenerated SC were analyzed using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and small angle X-ray diffraction. RESULTS:Application of the formulation containing only one ceramide on regenerating SC resulted in a higher fraction of lipids adopting an orthorhombic organization. A similar fraction of lipids forming an orthorhombic organization was observed after application of a formulation containing two ceramides and a fatty acid on regenerating SC. No effects on the lamellar lipid organization were observed. CONCLUSIONS:Application of a formulation containing either a single ceramide or two ceramides and a fatty acid on regenerating SC, resulted in a denser lateral lipid packing of the SC lipids in compromised skin. The strongest effect was observed after application of a formulation containing a single ceramide.
Project description:Restoring the lipid homeostasis of the stratum corneum (SC) is a common strategy to enhance skin barrier function. Here, we used a ceramide containing vernix caseosa (VC)-based formulation and were able to accelerate barrier recovery in healthy volunteers. The recovery was examined over 16 days by monitoring trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) after barrier disruption by tape-stripping. Four skin sites were used to examine the effects of both treatment and barrier recovery. After 16 days, samples were harvested at these sites to examine the SC ceramide composition and lipid organization. Changes in ceramide profiles were identified using principal component analysis. After barrier recovery, the untreated sites showed increased levels of ceramide subclass AS and ceramides with a 34 total carbon-atom chain length, while the mean ceramide chain length was reduced. These changes were diminished by treatment with the studied formulation, which concurrently increased the formulated ceramides. Correlations were observed between SC lipid composition, lipid organization, and TEWL, and changes in the ceramide subclass composition suggest changes in the ceramide biosynthesis. These results suggest that VC-based formulations enhance skin barrier recovery and are attractive candidates to treat skin disorders with impaired barrier properties.
Project description:A hallmark of atopic eczema (AE) is skin barrier dysfunction. Lipids in the stratum corneum (SC), primarily ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol, are crucial for the barrier function, but their role in relation to AE is indistinct. Filaggrin is an epithelial barrier protein with a central role in the pathogenesis of AE. Nevertheless, the precise causes of AE-associated barrier dysfunction are largely unknown. In this study, a comprehensive analysis of ceramide composition and lipid organization in nonlesional SC of AE patients and control subjects was performed by means of mass spectrometry, infrared spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction. In addition, the skin barrier and clinical state of the disease were examined. The level of ceramides with an extreme short chain length is drastically increased in SC of AE patients, which leads to an aberrant lipid organization and a decreased skin barrier function. Changes in SC lipid properties correlate with disease severity but are independent of filaggrin mutations. We demonstrate for the first time that changes in ceramide chain length and lipid organization are directly correlated with the skin barrier defects in nonlesional skin of AE patients. We envisage that these insights will provide a new therapeutic entry in therapy and prevention of AE.
Project description:The lipid matrix present in the uppermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, plays a crucial role in the skin barrier function. The lipids are organized into two lamellar phases. To gain more insight into the molecular organization of one of these lamellar phases, we performed neutron diffraction studies. In the diffraction pattern, five diffraction orders were observed attributed to a lamellar phase with a repeat distance of 5.4 nm. Using contrast variation, the scattering length density profile could be calculated showing a typical bilayer arrangement. To obtain information on the arrangement of ceramides in the unit cell, a mixture that included a partly deuterated ceramide was also examined. The scattering length density profile of the 5.4-nm phase containing this deuterated ceramide demonstrated a symmetric arrangement of the ceramides with interdigitating acyl chains in the center of the unit cell.
Project description:Ceramides are important for skin health, with a multitude of species found in both dermis and epidermis. The epidermis contains linoleic acid-Ester-linked Omega-hydroxylated ceramides of 6-Hydroxy-sphingosine, Sphingosine and Phytosphingosine bases (CER[EOH], CER[EOS] and CER[EOP], respectively), that are crucial for the formation of the epidermal barrier, conferring protection from environmental factors and preventing trans-epidermal water loss. Furthermore, a large number of ceramides, derivatives of the same sphingoid bases and various fatty acids, are produced by dermal and epidermal cells and perform signalling roles in cell functions ranging from differentiation to apoptosis. Supplementation with the n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have shown promise as therapeutic agents in a number of inflammatory skin conditions, altering the lipid profile of the skin and production of bioactive lipids such as the eicosanoids, docosanoids and endocannabinoids. In this study we wished to investigate whether EPA and DHA could also affect the ceramide profile in epidermis and dermis, and, in this way, contribute to formation of a robust lipid barrier and ceramide-mediated regulation of skin functions. Ex vivo skin explants were cultured for 6days, and supplemented with EPA or DHA (50?M). Liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry with electrospray ionisation was used to assess the prevalence of 321 individual ceramide species, and a number of sphingoid bases, phosphorylated sphingoid bases, and phosphorylated ceramides, within the dermis and epidermis. EPA augmented dermal production of members of the ceramide families containing Non-hydroxy fatty acids and Sphingosine or Dihydrosphingosine bases (CER[NS] and CER[NDS], respectively), while epidermal CER[EOH], CER[EOS] and CER[EOP] ceramides were not affected. DHA did not significantly affect ceramide production. Ceramide-1-phosphate levels in the epidermis, but not the dermis, increased in response to EPA, but not DHA. This ex vivo study shows that dietary supplementation with EPA has the potential to alter the ceramide profile of the skin, and this may contribute to its anti-inflammatory profile. This has implications for formation of the epidermal lipid barrier, and signalling pathways within the skin mediated by ceramides and other sphingolipid species. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Membrane Lipid Therapy: Drugs Targeting Biomembranes edited by Pablo V. Escribá.
Project description:Human skin equivalents (HSEs) are in vitro developed three-dimensional models resembling native human skin (NHS) to a high extent. However, the epidermal lipid biosynthesis, barrier lipid composition, and organization are altered, leading to an elevated diffusion rate of therapeutic molecules. The altered lipid barrier formation in HSEs may be induced by standardized culture conditions, including a culture temperature of 37°C, which is dissimilar to skin surface temperature. Therefore, we aim to determine the influence of culture temperature during the generation of full thickness models (FTMs) on epidermal morphogenesis and lipid barrier formation. For this purpose, FTMs were developed at conventional core temperature (37°C) or lower temperatures (35°C and 33°C) and evaluated over a time period of 4 weeks. The stratum corneum (SC) lipid composition was analysed using advanced liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry analysis. Our results show that SC layers accumulated at a similar rate irrespective of culture temperature. At reduced culture temperature, an increased epidermal thickness, a disorganization of the lower epidermal cell layers, a delayed early differentiation, and an enlargement of granular cells were detected. Interestingly, melanogenesis was reduced at lower temperature. The ceramide subclass profile, chain length distribution, and level of unsaturated ceramides were similar in FTMs generated at 37°C and 35°C but changed when generated at 33°C, reducing the resemblance to NHS. Herein, we report that culture temperature affects epidermal morphogenesis substantially and to a lesser extent the lipid barrier formation, highlighting the importance of optimized external parameters during reconstruction of skin.
Project description:Epidermal ?-glucocerebrosidase (GBA1), an acid ?-glucosidase normally located in lysosomes, converts (glucosyl)ceramides into ceramides, which is crucial to generate an optimal barrier function of the outermost skin layer, the stratum corneum (SC). Here we report on two developed in situ methods to localize active GBA in human epidermis: <i>i</i>) an optimized zymography method that is less labor intensive and visualizes enzymatic activity with higher resolution than currently reported methods using either substrate 4-methylumbelliferyl-?-D-glucopyranoside or resorufin-?-D-glucopyranoside; and <i>ii</i>) a novel technique to visualize active GBA1 molecules by their specific labeling with a fluorescent activity-based probe (ABP), MDW941. The latter method pro-ved to be more robust and sensitive, provided higher resolution microscopic images, and was less prone to sample preparation effects. Moreover, in contrast to the zymography substrates that react with various ?-glucosidases, MDW941 specifically labeled GBA1. We demonstrate that active GBA1 in the epidermis is primarily located in the extracellular lipid matrix at the interface of the viable epidermis and the lower layers of the SC. With ABP-labeling, we observed reduced GBA1 activity in 3D-cultured skin models when supplemented with the reversible inhibitor, isofagomine, irrespective of GBA expression. This inhibition affected the SC ceramide composition: MS analysis revealed an inhibitor-dependent increase in the glucosylceramide:ceramide ratio.
Project description:Nonspherical liposomes were prepared by doping L-alpha-phosphatidylcholine (PC) with ceramide VI (a skin lipid). Cryo-transmission electron microscopy shows the liposome shape changing from spherical to an undulating tubular morphology, when the amount of ceramide VI is increased. The formation of tubular liposomes is energetically favorable and is attributed to the association of ceramide VI with PC creating regions of lower curvature. Since ceramides are the major component of skin lipids in the stratum corneum, tubular liposomes containing ceramide may potentially serve as self-enhanced nanocarriers for transdermal delivery.
Project description:The stratum corneum (SC), the top layer of skin, dictates the rate of both water loss through the skin and absorption of exogenous molecules into the body. The crystalline organization of the lipids in the SC is believed to be a key feature associated with the very limited permeability of the skin. In this work, we characterized the organization of SC lipid models that include, as in native SC, cholesterol, a series of FFAs (saturated with C16-C24 chains), as well as a ceramide bearing an oleate chain-linked to a very long saturated acyl chain [N-melissoyl-oleoyloxy hexacosanoyl-D-erythro-sphingosine (Cer EOS)]. The latter is reported to be essential for the native SC lipid organization. Our 2H-NMR, infrared, and Raman spectroscopy data reveal that Cer EOS leads to the formation of highly disordered liquid domains in a solid/crystalline matrix. The lipid organization imposes steric constraint on Cer EOS oleate chains in such a way that these hydrocarbon nanodroplets remain in the liquid state down to -30°C. These findings modify the structural description of the SC substantially and propose a novel role of Cer EOS, as this lipid is a strong modulator of SC solid/liquid balance.
Project description:Dysfunctional skin barrier plays a key role in the pathophysiology of atopic dermatitis (AD), a common inflammatory skin disease. Altered composition of ceramides is regarded as a major cause of skin barrier dysfunction, however it is not clear whether these changes are intrinsic or initiated by inflammation and aberrant immune response in AD. This study investigated the levels of free sphingoid bases (SBs) sphingosine and sphinganine and their ceramides and glucosylceramide in the stratum corneum (SC) and related them to skin barrier function, disease severity and local cytokine milieu. Ceramides were measured in healthy skin, and lesional and non-lesional skin of AD patients by a novel method based on deacylation of ceramides which were subsequently determined as corresponding sphingoid bases by using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). The cytokine levels were determined by multiplex immunoassay. Atopic skin showed increased levels of most investigated markers, predominantly in lesional skin. The largest difference in respect to healthy skin was found for glucosylceramide with respective median values of 0.23 (IQR 0.18-0.61), 0.56 (IQR 0.32-0.76) and 19.32 (IQR 7.86-27.62) pmol/g protein for healthy, non-lesional and lesional skin. The levels of investigated ceramide markers were correlated with disease severity (scoring atopic dermatitis, SCORAD) and skin barrier function (trans-epidermal water loss, TEWL) and furthermore with cytokines involved in innate, Th-1, and Th-2 immune response. Interestingly, the strongest association with SCORAD was found for sphinganine/sphingosine ratio (r = -0.69, p < 0.001; non-lesional skin), emphasizing the importance of SBs in AD. The highest correlation with TEWL was found for glucosylceramide (r2 = 0.60, p < 0.001), which was investigated for the first time in AD. Findings that the changes in SBs and ceramide levels were predominant in lesional skin and their association with disease severity and cytokine levels suggest an immune-system driven effect. a novel analysis method demonstrates a robust and simple approach that might facilitate wider use of lipid biomarkers in the clinics e.g., to monitor (immune) therapy or dissect disease endotypes.
Project description:The stratum corneum is the outermost layer of human skin and the primary barrier toward the environment. The barrier function is maintained by stacked layers of saturated long-chain ceramides, free fatty acids, and cholesterol. This structure is formed through a reorganization of glycosylceramide-based bilayers with cubic-like symmetry into ceramide-based bilayers with stacked lamellar symmetry. The process is accompanied by deglycosylation of glycosylceramides and dehydration of the skin barrier lipid structure. Using coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulation, we show the effects of deglycosylation and dehydration on bilayers of human skin glycosylceramides and ceramides, folded in three dimensions with cubic (gyroid) symmetry. Deglycosylation of glycosylceramides destabilizes the cubic lipid bilayer phase and triggers a cubic-to-lamellar phase transition. Furthermore, subsequent dehydration of the deglycosylated lamellar ceramide system closes the remaining pores between adjacent lipid layers and locally induces a ceramide chain transformation from a hairpin-like to a splayed conformation.