Journal of medicinal food

Gromwell (Lithospermum erythrorhizon) supplementation enhances epidermal levels of ceramides, glucosylceramides, β-glucocerebrosidase, and acidic sphingomyelinase in NC/Nga mice.

PMID 24074295


We have previously reported that dietary gromwell (Lithospermum erythrorhizon; LE) prevents the development of atopic dermatitis (AD) with increased epidermal levels of total ceramide (Cer), the major lipid maintaining epidermal barrier. In this study, we investigated whether the increased level of total Cer induced by dietary LE would be related to the altered metabolism of glucosylceramide (GlcCer) and sphingomyelin (SM), two major precursor lipids in Cer generation. NC/Nga mice, an animal model of AD, were fed a control diet (group CA: atopic control) or a diet with 70% ethanol LE extracts (1% in diet; group LE) for 10 weeks. Individual species of Cer, GlcCer, and SM were analyzed by high-performance thin layer chromatography. In the epidermis of group CA, total Cer (including Cer2 and Cer5-7) and total GlcCer (including GlcCer-B/C/D) were significantly reduced; these levels in group LE were increased to levels similar to the normal control group of BALB/c mice (group C). In addition, protein expressions and activities of β-glucocerebrosidase (β-GlcCer'ase) and acidic sphingomyelinase (aSMase), enzymes for GlcCer or SM hydrolysis, respectively, were increased in group LE. However, alterations of Cer1, Cer3/4, GlcCer-A, and all SM species (including SM1-3) were not significant among groups C, CA, and LE. Dietary gromwell increases GlcCer-B/C/D, and further enhances the generation of Cer2 and Cer5-7 with high protein expressions and activities of β-GlcCer'ase and aSMase.