Epidermal ceramides are indispensable lipids that maintain the functions of the stratum corneum. Esterified omega-hydroxyacyl-sphingosine (EOS) ceramide with a linoleate moiety is one of the most important ceramide species for forming cornified lipid envelopes. This linoleate moiety is eventually metabolized to trihydroxy-linoleic acid (triol, 9,10,13-trihydroxy-11E-octadecenoic acid). Thus, we assumed that a decrease of triols might reflect skin barrier dysfunction. Against this background, the purposes of this study were to measure the triols by a simple tape-stripping method and to determine the correlation between the amount of triols and transepidermal water loss (TEWL) as an indicator of barrier dysfunction in atopic dermatitis patients. Twenty Japanese subjects with normal skin and 20 atopic dermatitis patients were enrolled in this study. TEWL was measured and triols of the stratum corneum were analyzed by tape-stripping. The results showed for the first time that triols in the stratum corneum could be simply measured using the tape-stripping method. The triol levels in atopic dermatitis patients were much higher than those in healthy subjects. Moreover, the triol levels correlated with TEWL of non-lesional forearm skin in patients with atopic dermatitis. The results suggest that the assaying of triol levels via non-invasive tape-stripping could be beneficial for monitoring barrier function in atopic dermatitis.
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