Menopause induces changes to the stratum corneum ceramide profile, which are prevented by hormone replacement therapy

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The menopause can lead to epidermal changes that are alleviated by hormone replacement therapy (HRT). We hypothesise that these changes could relate to altered ceramide production, and that oestrogen may have a role in keratinocyte ceramide metabolism. White Caucasian women were recruited into three groups: pre-menopausal (n = 7), post-menopausal (n = 11) and post-menopausal taking HRT (n = 10). Blood samples were assessed for hormone levels, transepidermal water loss was measured to assess skin barrier function, and stratum corneum lipids were sampled from photoprotected buttock skin. Ceramides and sphingomyelins were analysed by ultraperformance liquid chromatography with electrospray ionisation and tandem mass spectrometry. Post-menopausal stratum corneum contained lower levels of ceramides, with shorter average length; changes that were not evident in the HRT group. Serum oestradiol correlated with ceramide abundance and length. Ceramides had shorter sphingoid bases, indicating altered de novo ceramide biosynthesis. Additionally, post-menopausal women had higher sphingomyelin levels, suggesting a possible effect on the hydrolysis pathway. Treatment of primary human keratinocytes with oestradiol (10 nM) increased production of CER[NS] and CER[NDS] ceramides, confirming an effect of oestrogen on cutaneous ceramide metabolism. Taken together, these data show perturbed stratum corneum lipids post-menopause, and a role for oestrogen in ceramide production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date15 Dec 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Dec 2022


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