Skin Membrane Electrical Impedance Properties under the Influence of a Varying Water Gradient.

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Abstract

The stratum corneum (SC) is an effective permeability barrier. One strategy to increase drug delivery across skin is to increase the hydration. A detailed description of how hydration affects skin permeability requires characterization of both macroscopic and molecular properties and how they respond to hydration. We explore this issue by performing impedance experiments on excised skin membranes in the frequency range 1 Hz to 0.2 MHz under the influence of a varying gradient in water activity (aw). Hydration/dehydration induces reversible changes of membrane resistance and effective capacitance. On average, the membrane resistance is 14 times lower and the effective capacitance is 1.5 times higher when the outermost SC membrane is exposed to hydrating conditions (aw = 0.992), as compared to the case of more dehydrating conditions (aw = 0.826). Molecular insight into the hydration effects on the SC components is provided by natural-abundance (13)C polarization transfer solid-state NMR and x-ray diffraction under similar hydration conditions. Hydration has a significant effect on the dynamics of the keratin filament terminals and increases the interchain spacing of the filaments. The SC lipids are organized into lamellar structures with ∼ 12.6 nm spacing and hexagonal hydrocarbon chain packing with mainly all-trans configuration of the acyl chains, irrespective of hydration state. Subtle changes in the dynamics of the lipids due to mobilization and incorporation of cholesterol and long-chain lipid species into the fluid lipid fraction is suggested to occur upon hydration, which can explain the changes of the impedance response. The results presented here provide information that is useful in explaining the effect of hydration on skin permeability.

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  • Biophysics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2639-2650
JournalBiophysical Journal
Volume104
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes