The outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum (SC), acts as the natural physical barrier. The SC consists of corneocytes embedded in a crystalline lipid matrix consisting of ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol. Although phospholipids are frequently present in topical formulations, no detailed information is reported on the interactions between phospholipids and SC lipids. The aim of this study was to examine the interactions between a model phospholipid, dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC) and synthetic ceramide-based mixtures (referred to as SC lipids). (Perdeuterated) DPPC was mixed with SC lipids and the lipid organization and mixing properties were examined. The studies revealed that DPPC participates in the same lattice as SC lipids thereby enhancing a hexagonal packing. Even at a high DPPC level, no phase separated pure DPPC was observed. When a DPPC containing formulation is applied to the skin surface it must partition into the SC lipid matrix prior to any mixing with the SC lipids. To mimic this, DPPC was applied on top of a SC lipid membrane. DPPC applied in a liquid crystalline state was able to mix with the SC lipids and participated in the same lattice as the SC lipids. However, when DPPC was applied in a rippled gel-state very limited partitioning of DPPC into the SC lipid matrix occurred. Thus, when applied to the skin, liquid crystalline DPPC will have very different interactions with SC lipids than DPPC in a (rippled-)gel phase.
Gooris, G. S., Kamran, M., Kros, A., Moore, D. J., & Bouwstra, J. A. (2018). Interactions of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine with ceramide-based mixtures. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes, 1860(6), 1272–1281. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamem.2018.02.024