Phase behavior of stratum corneum lipids in mixed Langmuir-Blodgett monolayers.Biophys J. 1996 Sep; 71(3):1389-99.BJ
The lipids found in the bilayers of the stratum corneum fulfill the vital barrier role of mammalian bodies. The main classes of lipids found in stratum corneum are ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids. For an investigation of their phase behavior, mixed Langmuir-Blodgett monolayers of these lipids were prepared. Atomic force microscopy was used to investigate the structure of the monolayers as a function of the monolayer composition. Three different types of ceramide were used: ceramide extracted from pigskin, a commercially available ceramide with several fatty acid chain lengths, and two synthetic ceramides that have only one fatty acid chain length. In pigskin ceramide-cholesterol mixed monolayers phase separation was observed. This phase separation was also found for the commercially available type III Sigma ceramide-cholesterol mixed monolayers with molar ratios ranging from 1:0.1 to 1:1. These monolayers separated into two phases, one composed of the long fatty acid chain fraction of Sigma ceramide III and the other of the short fatty acid chain fraction of Sigma ceramide III mixed with cholesterol. Mixtures with a higher cholesterol content consisted of only one phase. These observations were confirmed by the results obtained with synthetic ceramides, which have only one fatty acid chain length. The synthetic ceramide with a palmitic acid (16:0) chain mixed with cholesterol, and the synthetic ceramide with a lignoceric acid (24:0) chain did not. Free fatty acids showed a preference to mix with one of these phases, depending on their fatty acid chain lengths. The results of this investigation suggest that the model system used in this study is in good agreement with those of other studies concerning the phase behavior of the stratum corneum lipids. By varying the composition of the monolayers one can study the role of each lipid class in detail.