2023 Volume 71 Issue 1 Pages 31-40
Intercellular lipids fill the interstices of corneocytes and serve a barrier function. The amount of transdermal water evaporation varies depending on the packing structure of intercellular lipids, as this structure is important for maintaining barrier efficacy. This packing structure consists of a mixture of crystals (orthorhombic and hexagonal) and liquid crystals (fluid phase), and the proportion of these phases is thought to affect barrier function. However, there have been no methods to visualize the actual distribution of the domains formed by packing structure in intercellular lipids. In this study, the planar distribution of intercellular lipid structures was determined using focal plane array (FPA)-based Fourier transform (FT) IR imaging analysis of stratum corneum cell units obtained by grid stripping. The lipid composition of ceramides was revealed by electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS)-based shotgun lipidomics. The distribution of domains formed by packing structures and the lipid composition of ceramides was compared in skin with high- or low-transepidermal water loss (TEWL). The orthorhombic proportion was lower in high-TEWL skin than in low-TEWL skin. ESI-MS/MS-based shotgun lipidomics analysis showed that the alpha-hydroxyceramide content in the low- and high-TEWL groups differed regarding the distribution of fatty acid chain lengths. The evaluation of stratum corneum cell units using FPA-based FTIR imaging is an innovative technology that can visualize the distribution of domains formed by intercellular lipid-packing structures. Increased proportions of alpha-hydroxyceramide subclasses such as alpha-hydroxy-sphingosine ceramide and alpha-hydroxy-phytosphingosine ceramide were associated with a reduced proportion of the orthorhombic packing structure domain.