Resistance to water diffusion in the stratum corneum is depth-dependent


The stratum corneum (SC) provides a permeability barrier that limits the inflow and outflow of water. The permeability barrier is continuously and dynamically formed, maintained, and degraded along the depth, from the bottom to the top, of the SC. Naturally, its functioning and structure also change dynamically in a depth-dependent manner. While transepidermal water loss is typically used to assess the function of the SC barrier, it fails to provide any information about the dynamic mechanisms that are responsible for the depth-dependent characteristics of the permeability barrier. This paper aims to quantitatively characterize the depth-dependency of the permeability barrier using in vivo non-invasive measurement data for understanding the underlying mechanisms for barrier formation, maintenance, and degradation. As a framework to combine existing experimental data, we propose a mathematical model of the SC, consisting of multiple compartments, to explicitly address and investigate the depth-dependency of the SC permeability barrier. Using this mathematical model, we derive a measure of the water permeability barrier, i.e. resistance to water diffusion in the SC, from the measurement data on transepidermal water loss and water concentration profiles measured non-invasively by Raman spectroscopy. The derived resistance profiles effectively characterize the depth-dependency of the permeability barrier, with three distinct regions corresponding to formation, maintenance, and degradation of the barrier. Quantitative characterization of the obtained resistance profiles allows us to compare and evaluate the permeability barrier of skin with different morphology and physiology (infants vs adults, different skin sites, before and after application of oils) and elucidates differences in underlying mechanisms of processing barriers. The resistance profiles were further used to predict the spatial-temporal effects of skin treatments by in silico experiments, in terms of spatial-temporal dynamics of percutaneous water penetration.

PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 2, p. e0117292, Feb. 2015
Reiko Tanaka
Reiko Tanaka
Reader in Computational Systems Biology & Medicine