Applying a vernix caseosa based formulation accelerates skin barrier repair by modulating lipid biosynthesis

Walter A. Boiten, Tineke Berkers, Samira Absalah, Jeroen Van Smeden, Adriana P.M. Lavrijsen, Joke A. Bouwstra*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Restoring the lipid homeostasis of the stratum corneum (SC) is a common strategy to enhance skin barrier function. Here, we used a ceramide containing vernix caseosa (VC)-based formulation and were able to accelerate barrier recovery in healthy volunteers. The recovery was examined over 16 days by monitoring trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) after barrier disruption by tape-stripping. Four skin sites were used to examine the effects of both treatment and barrier recovery. After 16 days, samples were harvested at these sites to examine the SC ceramide composition and lipid organization. Changes in ceramide profiles were identified using principal component analysis. After barrier recovery, the untreated sites showed increased levels of ceramide subclass AS and ceramides with a 34 total carbon-atom chain length, while the mean ceramide chain length was reduced. These changes were diminished by treatment with the studied formulation, which concurrently increased the formulated ceramides. Correlations were observed between SC lipid composition, lipid organization, and TEWL, and changes in the ceramide subclass composition suggest changes in the ceramide biosynthesis. These results suggest that VC-based formulations enhance skin barrier recovery and are attractive candidates to treat skin disorders with impaired barrier properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-260
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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