Selectivity in cornified envelop binding of ceramides in human skin and the role of LXR inactivation on ceramide binding

Walter Boiten, Richard Helder, Jeroen van Smeden, Joke Bouwstra

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The cornified lipid envelope (CLE) is a lipid monolayer covalently bound to the outside of corneocytes and is part of the stratum corneum (SC). The CLE is suggested to act as a scaffold for the unbound SC lipids. By profiling the bound CLE ceramides, a new subclass was discovered and identified as an omega-hydroxylated dihydrosphingosine (OdS) ceramide. Bound glucosylceramides were observed in superficial SC layers of healthy human skin. To investigate the relation between bound and unbound SC ceramides, the composition of both fractions was analyzed and compared. Selectivity in ceramide binding towards unsaturated ceramides and ceramides with a shorter chain length was observed. The selectivity in ceramide species bound to the cornified envelope is thought to have a physiological function in corneocyte flexibility. Next, it was examined if skin models exhibit an altered bound ceramide composition and if the composition was dependent on liver X-receptor (LXR) activation. The effects of an LXR agonist and antagonist on the bound ceramides composition of a full thickness model (FTM) were analyzed. In FTMs, a decreased amount of bound ceramides was observed compared to native human skin. Furthermore, FTMs had a bound ceramide fraction which consisted mostly of unsaturated and shorter ceramides. The LXR antagonist had a normalizing effect on the FTM bound ceramide composition. The agonist exhibited minimal effects. We show that ceramide binding is a selective process, yet, still is contingent on lipid synthesized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1206-1213
Number of pages8
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Bound lipids
  • Ceramide
  • Cornified lipid envelope
  • Liver-X-receptor
  • Quantification
  • Skin culture

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