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Molecular mechanisms of action of different concentrations of ethanol in water on ordered structures of intercellular lipids and soft keratin in the stratum corneum.

Biochimica et biophysica acta (2015-02-24)
Daisuke Horita, Ichiro Hatta, Masato Yoshimoto, Yuki Kitao, Hiroaki Todo, Kenji Sugibayashi
ABSTRACT

Ethanol (EtOH) is one of the bases in topically applied medicines that promote the skin permeation of drugs. Although the effects of EtOH have been attributed to structural modifications in the stratum corneum, the underlying mechanisms, especially the influence of different concentrations of EtOH, have not been examined extensively. Structural modifications in the stratum corneum of hairless mouse due to the application of EtOH/water mixture were herein investigated at the molecular level using synchrotron X-ray diffraction. The results revealed that all EtOH concentrations examined greatly modified the short lamellar structures containing the aqueous layer in intercellular lipids and the structure of keratin fibrils in corneocytes, which can take up hydrophilic compounds. However, the long lamellar and the hydrocarbon-chain packing structures were unaffected by EtOH. Changes to the short lamellar structures were not proportional to the concentration of EtOH. However, the keratin fibril structures changed gradually with increasing EtOH concentration. The X-ray diffraction experiments enabled the effects of different EtOH concentrations on the morphology of the stratum corneum to be assessed by using a number of experimental samples to avoid variations due to individual differences. The results indicated that alterations to the short lamellar structures appeared to be related to the skin permeability of drugs with the application of EtOH/water mixture, and monotonous structural changes in the keratin fibrils with an increase in EtOH concentration may contribute to this permeation as supplement. These results will be useful for the development of new drug formulations containing EtOH.

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