Arrangement of Ceramides in the Skin: Sphingosine Chains Localize at a Single Position in Stratum Corneum Lipid Matrix Models.
ABSTRACT: Understanding the structure of the stratum corneum (SC) is essential to understand the skin barrier process. The long periodicity phase (LPP) is a unique trilayer lamellar structure located in the SC. Adjustments in the composition of the lipid matrix, as in many skin abnormalities, can have severe effects on the lipid organization and barrier function. Although the location of individual lipid subclasses has been identified, the lipid conformation at these locations remains uncertain. Contrast variation experiments via small-angle neutron diffraction were used to investigate the conformation of ceramide (CER) N-(tetracosanoyl)-sphingosine (NS) within both simplistic and porcine mimicking LPP models. To identify the lipid conformation of the twin chain CER NS, the chains were individually deuterated, and their scattering length profiles were calculated to identify their locations in the LPP unit cell. In the repeating trilayer unit of the LPP, the acyl chain of CER NS was located in the central and outer layers, while the sphingosine chain was located exclusively in the middle of the outer layers. Thus, for the CER NS with the acyl chain in the central layer, this demonstrates an extended conformation. Electron density distribution profiles identified that the lipid structure remains consistent regardless of the lipid's lateral packing phase, this may be partially due to the anchoring of the extended CER NS. The presented results provide a more detailed insight on the internal arrangement of the LPP lipids and how they are expected to be arranged in healthy skin.
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:BACKGROUND:Specific species of ceramides (Cer), major constituents of lipids in the stratum corneum (SC), are decreased and are correlated with SC barrier and water-holding functions in the skin of patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) or psoriasis (Pso). However, possible correlations between Cer subclass ratios and skin properties in barrier-disrupted skin and in healthy skin remain unclear. The objective of this study was to identify a new marker to evaluate skin properties and epidermal differentiation in SC not only in barrier-disrupted skin but also in healthy skin. METHODS:The Cer subclass ratios in the SC of healthy control subjects and in patients with AD or Pso were evaluated. Correlations with candidate markers and facial skin features of healthy Japanese females (20-74?years old, n?=?210) were investigated. Variations of markers during epidermal differentiation were studied in human epidermis and in cultured keratinocytes. RESULTS:The ratios of Cer [NP]/[NS], Cer [NH]/[NS], Cer [NP]/[AS], Cer [NH]/[NS], Cer [NDS]/[AS], Cer [AH]/[AS] and Cer [EOP]/[AS] showed significant differences between non-lesional skin of AD patients and normal skin of healthy control subjects, as well as Pso patients and their healthy control subjects. The Cer [NP]/[NS] ratio was correlated with SC functional parameters (transepidermal water loss and capacitance) and with skin appearance (texture, scaling and color) even in the cheek skin of healthy female subjects. The Cer [NP]/[NS] ratio in the SC was approximately 18-times higher than in living keratinocytes, and it increased as they differentiated. CONCLUSIONS:The Cer [NP]/[NS] ratio in the SC is a potential marker for skin properties and epidermal differentiation in barrier-disrupted skin as well as in healthy skin.
Project description:Lipid bilayers composed of non-hydroxy sphingosine ceramide (CER NS), cholesterol (CHOL), and free fatty acids (FFAs), which are components of the human skin barrier, are studied via molecular dynamics simulations. Since mixtures of these lipids exist in dense gel phases with little molecular mobility at physiological conditions, care must be taken to ensure that the simulations become decorrelated from the initial conditions. Thus, we propose and validate an equilibration protocol based on simulated tempering, in which the simulation takes a random walk through temperature space, allowing the system to break out of metastable configurations and hence become decorrelated from its initial configuration. After validating the equilibration protocol, which we refer to as random-walk molecular dynamics, the effects of the lipid composition and ceramide tail length on bilayer properties are studied. Systems containing pure CER NS, CER NS + CHOL, and CER NS + CHOL + FFA, with the CER NS fatty acid tail length varied within each CER NS-CHOL-FFA composition, are simulated. The bilayer thickness is found to depend on the structure of the center of the bilayer, which arises as a result of the tail-length asymmetry between the lipids studied. The hydrogen bonding between the lipid headgroups and with water is found to change with the overall lipid composition, but is mostly independent of the CER fatty acid tail length. Subtle differences in the lateral packing of the lipid tails are also found as a function of CER tail length. Overall, these results provide insight into the experimentally observed trend of altered barrier properties in skin systems where there are more CERs with shorter tails present.
Project description:Ceramides (Cer) are essential components of the skin permeability barrier. To probe the role of Cer polar head groups involved in the interfacial hydrogen bonding, the N-lignoceroyl sphingosine polar head was modified by removing the hydroxyls in C-1 (1-deoxy-Cer) or C-3 positions (3-deoxy-Cer) and by N-methylation of amide group (N-Me-Cer). Multilamellar skin lipid models were prepared as equimolar mixtures of Cer, lignoceric acid and cholesterol, with 5?wt% cholesteryl sulfate. In the 1-deoxy-Cer-based models, the lipid species were separated into highly ordered domains (as found by X-ray diffraction and infrared spectroscopy) resulting in similar water loss but 4-5-fold higher permeability to model substances compared to control with natural Cer. In contrast, 3-deoxy-Cer did not change lipid chain order but promoted the formation of a well-organized structure with a 10.8?nm repeat period. Yet both lipid models comprising deoxy-Cer had similar permeabilities to all markers. N-Methylation of Cer decreased lipid chain order, led to phase separation, and improved cholesterol miscibility in the lipid membranes, resulting in 3-fold increased water loss and 10-fold increased permeability to model compounds compared to control. Thus, the C-1 and C-3 hydroxyls and amide group, which are common to all Cer subclasses, considerably affect lipid miscibility and chain order, formation of periodical nanostructures, and permeability of the skin barrier lipid models.
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:Membrane models of the stratum corneum (SC) lipid barrier, either healthy or affected by recessive X-linked ichthyosis, constructed from ceramide [Cer; nonhydroxyacyl sphingosine N-tetracosanoyl-d-erythro-sphingosine (CerNS24) alone or with omega-O-acylceramide N-(32-linoleyloxy)dotriacontanoyl-d-erythro-sphingosine (CerEOS)], FFAs(C16-24), cholesterol (Chol), and sodium cholesteryl sulfate (CholS) were investigated. X-ray diffraction (XRD) revealed a previously unreported polymorphism of the membranes. In the absence of CerEOS, the membranes formed a short lamellar phase (SLP; the repeat distance d = 5.3 nm), a medium lamellar phase (MLP; d = 10.6 nm), or very long lamellar phases (VLLP; d = 15.9 and 21.2 nm). An increased CholS-to-Chol ratio modulated the membrane polymorphism, although the CholS phase separated at ? 7 weight% (of total lipids). The presence of CerEOS led to the stable long lamellar phase (LLP) with d = 12.2 nm and prevented VLLP formation. Our XRD results agree well with recently published cryo-electron microscopy data for vitreous skin sections, while also revealing new structures. Thus, lamellar phases with long repeat distances (MLP and VLLP) may be formed in the absence of omega-O-acylceramide, whereas these ultralong Cer species likely stabilize the final SC lipid architecture of LLP by riveting the adjacent lipid layers.
Project description:The lipid phase of the uppermost human skin layer is thought to comprise highly rigid lipids in an orthorhombic phase state to protect the body against the environment. By synthesizing sphingosine-d28 deuterated N-lignoceroyl-d-erythro-sphingosine (ceramide [NS]), we compare the structure and dynamics of both chains of that lipid in biologically relevant mixtures using X-ray diffraction, 2 H?NMR analysis, and infrared spectroscopy. Our results reveal a substantial fraction of sphingosine chains in a fluid and dynamic phase state at physiological temperature. These findings prompt revision of our current understanding of the skin lipid barrier, where an extended ceramide [NS] conformation is preferred and a possible domain structure is proposed. Mobile lipid chains may be crucial for skin elasticity and the translocation of physiologically important molecules.
Project description:Ceramides (CERs) in the upper layer of the skin, the stratum corneum (SC), play a key role in the skin barrier function. In human SC, the literature currently reports 11 CER subclasses that have been identified. In this paper, a novel quick and robust LC/MS method is presented that allows the separation and analysis of all known human SC CER subclasses using only limited sample preparation. Besides all 11 known and identified subclasses, a 3D multi-mass chromatogram shows the presence of other lipid subclasses. Using LC/MS/MS with an ion trap (IT) system, a Fourier transform-ion cyclotron resonance system, and a triple quadrupole system, we were able to identify one of these lipid subclasses as a new CER subclass: the ester-linked ?-hydroxy fatty acid with a dihydrosphingosine base (CER [EOdS]). Besides the identification of a new CER subclass, this paper also describes the applicability and robustness of the developed LC/MS method by analyzing three (biological) SC samples: SC from human dermatomed skin, human SC obtained by tape stripping, and SC from full-thickness skin explants. All three biological samples showed all known CER subclasses and slight differences were observed in CER profile.
Project description:Ceramides are important lipid metabolites for primal skin functions. There is increasing evidence that alteration of the profile and metabolism of ceramides is associated with skin diseases, such as psoriasis vulgaris. Most studies have reported alteration in ceramide content in the stratum corneum, but these have been scarcely reported for other skin layers. In the present work, we aimed to explore changes in the ceramide profile of fibroblasts and keratinocytes in patients with psoriasis vulgaris and healthy subjects. Using the reversed-phase liquid chromatography-quadrupole-time-of-flight-tandem-mass spectrometry (RPLC-QTOF-MS/MS) platform, we identified ceramide containing non-hydroxy fatty acid ([N]), ?-hydroxy fatty acid ([A]), and esterified ?-hydroxy fatty acid ([EO]) and 3 sphingoid bases, dihydrosphingosine ([DS]), sphingosine ([S]), and phytosphingosine ([P]). We found that in the keratinocytes of patients with psoriasis, CER[NS], CER[NP], CER[AS], CER[ADS], CER[AP] and CER[EOS] tended to be expressed at higher relative levels, whereas CER[NDS] tended to be expressed with lower levels than in healthy subjects. In the case of fibroblasts, significant differences were observed, mainly in the three ceramide classes (CER[AS], CER[ADS] and CER[EOS]), which were expressed at significantly higher levels in patients with psoriasis. The most significant alteration in the fibroblasts involved elevated levels of CER[EOS] that contained ester-linked fatty acids. Our findings provide insights into the ceramide profile in the dermis and epidermis of patients with psoriasis and contribute for the research in this field, focusing on the role of keratinocyte-fibroblast crosstalk in the development of psoriasis vulgaris.
Project description: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.