• cohesion;
  • hydration;
  • infrared spectroscopy;
  • integrity;
  • lipid molecular organization;
  • pH;
  • Stratum corneum;
  • tape-stripping;
  • transepidermal water loss

Abstract:  The correlation between the degrees of integrity and cohesion in healthy human Stratum corneum (SC) and the properties of the SC lipid matrix could be examined non-invasively in vivo using ATR-FTIR spectroscopy and measurements of pH, conductance, and transepidermal water loss (TEWL) taken in the course of tape-stripping. The change of TEWL following the removal of a SC layer with a predefined thickness served as a measure for the SC integrity, and the amount of protein removed by predefined number of tapes – as a measure for the SC cohesion. The extent of lipids organized in orthorhombic lattices and the pH in the inner SC emerged as the main factors that determine the degree of integrity. The amounts and molecular organization of the SC lipids did not correlate with the degree of cohesion, while the pH and the hydration of SC correlated well with the degree of cohesion in the superficial but not in the inner SC layers. This study evidenced the variability of SC integrity and cohesion existing in healthy human skin, demonstrated the importance of the lipid molecular organization for the SC integrity, and illustrated the limitations in the determination the degree of corneodesmolysis in SC based only on the protein content of tape-strips.