Author(s): Albr C, Brandner BD, Bjrklund S, Billsten P, Corkery RW, , Albr C, Brandner BD, Bjrklund S, Billsten P, Corkery RW,
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Abstract The rather thin outermost layer of the mammalian skin, stratum corneum (SC), is a complex biomembrane which separates the water rich inside of the body from the dry outside. The skin surface can be exposed to rather extreme variations in ambient conditions (e.g. water activity, temperature and pH), with potential effects on the barrier function. Increased understanding of how the barrier is affected by such changes is highly relevant for regulation of transdermal uptake of exogenous chemicals. In the present study we investigate the effect of hydration and the use of a well-known humectant, urea, on skin barrier ultrastructure by means of confocal Raman microspectroscopy. We also perform dynamic vapor sorption (DVS) microbalance measurements to examine the water uptake capacity of SC pretreated with urea. Based on novel Raman images, constructed from 2D spectral maps, we can distinguish large water inclusions within the skin membrane exceeding the size of fully hydrated corneocytes. We show that these inclusions contain water with spectral properties similar to that of bulk water. The results furthermore show that the ambient water activity has an important impact on the formation of these water inclusions as well as on the hydration profile across the membrane. Urea significantly increases the water uptake when present in skin, as compared to skin without urea, and it promotes formation of larger water inclusions in the tissue. The results confirm that urea can be used as a humectant to increase skin hydration. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Biochim Biophys Acta
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research