The role of ceramide composition in the lipid organisation of the skin barrier.Biochim Biophys Acta. 1999 Jul 15; 1419(2):127-36.BB
The lipid lamellae in the stratum corneum (SC) play a key role in the barrier function of the skin. The major lipids are ceramides (CER), cholesterol (CHOL) and free fatty acids (FFA). In pig SC at least six subclasses of ceramides (referred to as CER 1, 2-6) are present. Recently it was shown that in mixtures of isolated pig SC ceramides (referred to as CER(1-6)) and CHOL two lamellar phases are formed, which mimic SC lipid organisation very closely [J.A. Bouwstra et al., 1996, J. Lipid Res. 37, 999-1011] . Since the CER composition in SC originating from different sources/donors often varies, information on the effect of variations in CER composition on the SC lipid organisation is important. The results of the present study with mixtures of CHOL including two different CER mixtures that lack CER 6 (CER(1-5) mixtures) revealed that at an equimolar molar ratio their lipid organisation was similar to that of the equimolar CHOL:CER(1-6) and CHOL:CER(1,2) mixtures, described previously. These observations suggest that at an equimolar CHOL:CER ratio the lipid organisation is remarkably insensitive toward a change in the CER composition. Similar observations have been made with equimolar CHOL:CER:FFA mixtures. The situation is different when the CHOL:CER molar ratio varies. While in the CHOL:CER(1-6) mixture the lamellar organisation hardly changed with varying molar ratio from 0.4 to 2, the lamellar organisation in the CHOL:CER(1-5) mixtures appeared to be more sensitive to a change in the relative CHOL content, especially concerning the changes in the periodicities of the lamellar phases. In summary, these findings clearly indicate that at an equimolar CHOL:CER molar ratio the lamellar organisation is least sensitive to a variation in CER composition, while at a reduced CHOL:CER molar ratio the CER composition plays a more prominent role in the lamellar phases. This observation may have an implication for the in vivo situation when both the CER composition and the CHOL:CER molar ratio change simultaneously.