The skin barrier from a lipid perspective
Sven Engström, Katarina Ekelund, Johan Engblom, Liselotte Eriksson, Emma Sparr, Håkan Wennerström
This contribution summarises the results from a number of investigations undertaken in the spirit of the Domain Mosaic Model proposed by Forslind in 1994. Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) studies on the two-dimensional phase behaviour of some stratum corneum lipids revealed phase separation of the lipids in the typical case and the ability of cholesterol to reduce the line tension between phases. A theoretical model was developed describing the response of an oriented stack of polar lipid bilayers in the presence of a gradient in water chemical potential (water solution to humid air). The gradient gives rise to an inhomogeneous water swelling, and presumably to a liquid crystal-to-gel transition in the lamellar region closest to humid air. Skin penetration enhancers such as Azone and oleic acid cause phase transformations in lipid bilayer systems which may be relevant in the context of skin permeation.