Seasonal changes in epidermal ceramides are linked to impaired barrier function in acne patients

Apostolos Pappas, Alexandra Kendall, Luke Brownbridge, Nikoleta Batchvarova, Anna Nicolaou

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Acne skin demonstrates increased transepidermal water loss (TEWL) compared
with healthy skin, which may be due, in part, to altered ceramide levels. We analysed ceramides in the stratum corneum of healthy and acne skin, and studied seasonal variation over the course of a year. Using ultraperformance liquid chromatography with electrospray ionisation and tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC/ESI-MS/MS), we identified 283 ceramides. Acne-affected skin demonstrated overall lower levels of ceramides, with notable reductions in CER[NH] and CER[AH] ceramides, as well as the acylceramides CER[EOS] and CER[EOH]; these differences were more apparent in the winter months. Lower ceramide levels reflected an increase in TEWL in acne, compared with healthy skin, which partly resolves in the summer. Individual ceramide species with 18-carbon 6-hydroxysphingosine (H) bases (including CER[N(24)H(18)], CER[N(26)H(18)], CER[A(24)H(18)], CER[A(26)H(18)]) were significantly reduced in acne skin, suggesting that CER[NH] and CER[AH] species may be particularly important in a healthy skin barrier.
Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Dermatology
Early online date21 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • TEWL
  • epidermal lipids
  • Stratum corneum
  • acylceramides
  • Mass spectrometry

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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