Author(s): Papir YS, Hsu KH, Wildnauer RH, Papir YS, Hsu KH, Wildnauer RH
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Abstract The tensile properties of the outermost layer of skin of neonatal rats, the stratum corneum, were investigated at a constant strain rate as a function of moisture content and ambient test temperature. The results show that the mechnical behavior of this membrane, whose primary constituent is the fibrous protein keratin, can be significantly altered by variations in both the sorbed water content and ambient temperature. In particular, a brittle to ductile transition was observed at 25 degrees C once the hydration level exceeded 70\% relative humidity. Similarly, an identical phenomenon was detected at temperatures beyond 40 degrees C for specimens whose equilibrium moisture concentrations were maintained at 10 g H2 O/100 g dry protein. Differential scanning calrimetry measurements showed the presence of a molecular relaxation process which migrated from 42 degrees C at 40\% relative humidity to --18 degrees C at 95\% relative humidity. It is postulated that this relaxation process, possibly corresponding to the glass transition of the fibrous protein component of stratum corneum, is primarily responsible for the observed behavior.
This article was published in Biochim Biophys Acta
and referenced in Journal of Aging Science