Modulation of stratum corneum lipid composition and organization of human skin equivalents by specific medium supplements

Varsha S. Thakoersing, Jeroen van Smeden, Walter A. Boiten, Gert S. Gooris, Aat A. Mulder, Rob J. Vreeken, Abdoelwaheb El Ghalbzouri, Joke A. Bouwstra

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Our in-house human skin equivalents contain all stratum corneum (SC) barrier lipid classes, but have a reduced level of free fatty acids (FAs), of which a part is mono-unsaturated. These differences lead to an altered SC lipid organization and thereby a reduced barrier function compared to human skin. In this study, we aimed to improve the SC FA composition and, consequently, the SC lipid organization of the Leiden epidermal model (LEM) by specific medium supplements. The standard FA mixture (consisting of palmitic, linoleic and arachidonic acids) supplemented to the medium was modified, by replacing protonated palmitic acid with deuterated palmitic acid or by the addition of deuterated arachidic acid to the mixture, to determine whether FAs are taken up from the medium and are incorporated into SC of LEM. Furthermore, supplementation of the total FA mixture or that of palmitic acid alone was increased four times to examine whether this improves the SC FA composition and lipid organization of LEM. The results demonstrate that the deuterated FAs are taken up into LEMs and are subsequently elongated and incorporated in their SC. However, a fourfold increase in palmitic acid supplementation does not change the SC FA composition or lipid organization of LEM. Increasing the concentration of the total FA mixture in the medium resulted in a decreased level of very long chain FAs and an increased level of mono-unsaturated FAs, which lead to deteriorated SC lipid properties. These results indicate that SC lipid properties can be modulated by specific medium supplements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-674
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental dermatology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Deuterated lipids
  • Fatty acids
  • Lipid organization
  • Skin barrier
  • Stratum corneum

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