Influence of the sebaceous gland density on the stratum corneum lipidome

Matteo Ludovici, Nina Kozul, Stefano Materazzi, Roberta Risoluti, Mauro Picardo, Emanuela Camera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The skin surface lipids (SSL) result from the blending of sebaceous and epidermal lipids, which derive from the sebaceous gland (SG) secretion and the permeability barrier of the stratum corneum (SC), respectively. In humans, the composition of the SSL is distinctive of the anatomical distribution of the SG. Thus, the abundance of sebum biomarkers is consistent with the density of the SG. Limited evidence on the influence that the SG exerts on the SC lipidome is available. We explored the differential amounts of sebaceous and epidermal lipids in areas at different SG density with lipidomics approaches. SC was sampled with adhesive patches from forearm, chest, and forehead of 10 healthy adults (8F, 2M) after mechanical removal of sebum with absorbing paper. Lipid extracts of SC were analysed by HPLC/(-)ESI-TOF-MS. In the untargeted approach, the naïve molecular features extraction algorithm was used to extract meaningful entities. Aligned and normalized data were evaluated by univariate and multivariate statistics. Quantitative analysis of free fatty acids (FFA) and cholesterol sulfate (CHS) was performed by targeted HPLC/(-)ESI-TOF-MS, whereas cholesterol and squalene were quantified by GC-MS. Untargeted approaches demonstrated that the relative abundance of numerous lipid species was distinctive of SC depending upon the different SG density. The discriminating species included FFA, CHS, and ceramides. Targeted analyses confirmed that sebaceous FFA and epidermal FFA were increased and decreased, respectively, in areas at high SG density. CHS and squalene, which are biomarkers of epidermal and sebaceous lipid matrices, respectively, were both significantly higher in areas at elevated SG density. Overall, results indicated that the SG secretion intervenes in shaping the lipid composition of the epidermal permeability barrier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11500
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 31 2018


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