BBA - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids (v.1841, #3)

The major function of the skin is to form a barrier between the internal milieu and the hostile external environment. A permeability barrier that prevents the loss of water and electrolytes is essential for life on land. The permeability barrier is mediated primarily by lipid enriched lamellar membranes that are localized to the extracellular spaces of the stratum corneum. These lipid enriched membranes have a unique structure and contain approximately 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol, and 15% free fatty acids with very little phospholipid. Lamellar bodies, which are formed during the differentiation of keratinocytes, play a key role in delivering the lipids from the stratum granulosum cells into the extracellular spaces of the stratum corneum. Lamellar bodies contain predominantly glucosylceramides, phospholipids, and cholesterol and following the exocytosis of lamellar lipids into the extracellular space of the stratum corneum these precursor lipids are converted by beta glucocerebrosidase and phospholipases into the ceramides and fatty acids, which comprise the lamellar membranes. The lipids required for lamellar body formation are derived from de novo synthesis by keratinocytes and from extra-cutaneous sources. The lipid synthetic pathways and the regulation of these pathways are described in this review. In addition, the pathways for the uptake of extra-cutaneous lipids into keratinocytes are discussed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Stratum corneum; Lamellar body; Ceramide synthesis; Cholesterol synthesis; Fatty acid synthesis; Glucosylceramide;

The important role of stratum corneum lipids for the cutaneous barrier function by J. van Smeden; M. Janssens; G.S. Gooris; J.A. Bouwstra (295-313).
The skin protects the body from unwanted influences from the environment as well as excessive water loss. The barrier function of the skin is located in the stratum corneum (SC). The SC consists of corneocytes embedded in a lipid matrix. This lipid matrix is crucial for the lipid skin barrier function. This paper provides an overview of the reported SC lipid composition and organization mainly focusing on healthy and diseased human skin. In addition, an overview is provided on the data describing the relation between lipid modulations and the impaired skin barrier function. Finally, the use of in vitro lipid models for a better understanding of the relation between the lipid composition, lipid organization and skin lipid barrier is discussed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Lipid composition; Lipid organization; Ceramides; Atopic dermatitis; Netherton disease; Psoriasis;

Formation and functions of the corneocyte lipid envelope (CLE) by Peter M. Elias; Robert Gruber; Debra Crumrine; Gopinathan Menon; Mary L. Williams; Joan S. Wakefield; Walter M. Holleran; Yoshikazu Uchida (314-318).
Corneocytes in mammalian stratum corneum are surrounded by a monolayer of covalently bound ω-OH-ceramides that form the corneocyte (-bound) lipid envelope (CLE). We review here the structure, composition, and possible functions of this structure, with insights provided by inherited and acquired disorders of lipid metabolism. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Acylceramide; Corneocyte lipid envelope; Essential fatty acid deficiency; Gaucher's disease; Neutral lipid storage disease; Refsum disease;

The roles of cutaneous lipids in host defense by Carol L. Fischer; Derek R. Blanchette; Kim A. Brogden; Deborah V. Dawson; David R. Drake; Jennifer R. Hill; Philip W. Wertz (319-322).
Lauric acid (C12:0) and sapienic acid (C16:1Δ6) derived from human sebaceous triglycerides are potent antimicrobials found at the human skin surface. Long-chain bases (sphingosine, dihydrosphingosine and 6-hydroxysphingosine) are also potent and broad-acting antimicrobials normally present at the skin surface. These antimicrobials are generated through the action of ceramidases on ceramides from the stratum corneum. These natural antimicrobials are thought to be part of the innate immune system of the skin. Exogenously providing these lipids to the skin may provide a new therapeutic option, or could potentially provide prophylaxis in people at risk of infection. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Sphingosine; Dihydrosphingosine; Phytosphingosine; Lauric acid; Sapienic acid; Antimicrobial;

Prior studies have revealed the key roles played by Th1/Th2 cell dysregulation, IgE production, mast cell hyperactivity, and dendritic cell signaling in the evolution of the chronic, pruritic, inflammatory dermatosis that characterizes atopic dermatitis (AD). We review here increasing evidence that the inflammation in AD results primarily from inherited abnormalities in epidermal structural and enzymatic proteins that impact permeability barrier function. We also will show that the barrier defect can be attributed to a paracellular abnormality due to a variety of abnormalities in lipid composition, transport and extracellular organization. Accordingly, we also review the therapeutic implications of this emerging pathogenic paradigm, including several current and potentially novel, lipid-based approaches to corrective therapy. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Antimicrobial peptide; Atopic dermatitis; Barrier function; Filaggrin; pH; Serine protease inhibitor;

The role of sterol-C4-methyl oxidase in epidermal biology by Miao He; Laurie D. Smith; Richard Chang; Xueli Li; Jerry Vockley (331-335).
Deficiency of sterol C4 methyl oxidase, encoded by the SC4MOL gene, has recently been described in four patients from three different families. All of the patients presented with microcephaly, congenital cataracts, and growth delay in infancy. The first patient has suffered since the age of six years from severe, diffuse, psoriasiform dermatitis, sparing only her palms. She is now 20 years old. The second patient is a 5 year old girl who has just started to develop dry skin and hair changes. The third and fourth patients are a pair of affected siblings with a severe skin condition since infancy. Quantitative sterol analysis of plasma and skin scales from all four patients showed marked elevation of 4α-methyl- and 4, 4′-dimethylsterols, consistent with a deficiency in the first step of sterol C4 demethylation in cholesterol biosynthesis. Mutations in the SC4MOL have been identified in all of the patients. SC4MOL deficiency is the first autosomal recessive disorder identified in the sterol demethylation complex. Cellular studies with patient-derived fibroblasts have shown a higher mitotic rate than control cells in cholesterol-depleted medium, with increased de novo cholesterol biosynthesis and accumulation of methylsterols. Immunologic analyses of granulocytes and B cells from patients and obligate carriers in the patients' families indicated dysregulation of immune-related receptors. Inhibition of sterol C4 methyl oxidase in human transformed lymphoblasts induced activation of the cell cycle. Additional studies also demonstrated diminished EGFR signaling and disrupted vesicular trafficking in cells from the affected patients. These findings suggest that methylsterols play an important role in epidermal biology by their influence on cell proliferation, intracellular signaling, vesicular trafficking and immune response. SC4MOL is situated within the psoriasis susceptibility locus PSORS9, and may be a genetic risk factor for common skin conditions. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: SC4MOL; Skin; Methylsterol; EGFR;

Keywords: Cholesterol; CDPX2; EBP; Sterol isomerase; Conradi–Hünermann–Happle syndrome; X-linked dominant chondrodysplasia punctata;

CHILD syndrome (Congenital Hemidysplasia with Ichthyosiform erythroderma and Limb Defects) is a rare X-linked dominant ichthyotic disorder. CHILD syndrome results from loss of function mutations in the NSDHL gene, which leads to inhibition of cholesterol synthesis and accumulation of toxic metabolic intermediates in affected tissues. The CHILD syndrome skin is characterized by plaques topped by waxy scales and a variety of developmental defects in extracutaneous tissues, particularly limb hypoplasia or aplasia. Strikingly, these alterations are commonly segregated to either the right or left side of the body midline with little to no manifestations on the ipsilateral side. By understanding the underlying disease mechanism of CHILD syndrome, a pathogenesis-based therapy has been developed that successfully reverses the CHILD syndrome skin phenotype and has potential applications to the treatment of other ichthyoses. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Ichthyosis; Lipids; X-inactivation; CHILD syndrome; Statin; Lovastatin;

Role of cholesterol sulfate in epidermal structure and function: Lessons from X-linked ichthyosis by Peter M. Elias; Mary L. Williams; Eung-Ho Choi; Kenneth R. Feingold (353-361).
X-linked ichthyosis is a relatively common syndromic form of ichthyosis most often due to deletions in the gene encoding the microsomal enzyme, steroid sulfatase, located on the short area of the X chromosome. Syndromic features are mild or unapparent unless contiguous genes are affected. In normal epidermis, cholesterol sulfate is generated by cholesterol sulfotransferase (SULT2B1b), but desulfated in the outer epidermis, together forming a ‘cholesterol sulfate cycle’ that potently regulates epidermal differentiation, barrier function and desquamation. In XLI, cholesterol sulfate levels my exceed 10% of total lipid mass (≈ 1% of total weight). Multiple cellular and biochemical processes contribute to the pathogenesis of the barrier abnormality and scaling phenotype in XLI. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Epidermal barrier function; Epidermal lipid metabolism; Cholesterol sulfate; Corneodesmosomes; Steroid sulfatase; X-linked ichthyosis;

Fatty acid transporters in skin development, function and disease by Meei-Hua Lin; Denis Khnykin (362-368).
Fatty acids in the epidermis can be incorporated into complex lipids or exist in a free form, and they are crucial to proper functions of the epidermis and its appendages, such as sebaceous glands. Epidermal fatty acids can be synthesized de novo by keratinocytes or taken up from extracutaneous sources in a process that likely involves protein transporters. Several proteins that are expressed in the epidermis have been proposed to facilitate the uptake of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA) in mammalian cells, including fatty acid translocase/CD36, fatty acid binding protein, and fatty acid transport protein (FATP)/very long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase. In this review, we will discuss the mechanisms by which these candidate transporters facilitate the uptake of fatty acids. We will then discuss the clinical implications of defects in these transporters and relevant animal models, including the FATP4 animal models and ichthyosis prematurity syndrome, a congenital ichthyosis caused by FATP4 deficiency. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Epidermal fatty acids metabolism; Acyl-CoA synthetases; Fatty acid binding proteins; Fatty acid transport proteins; Ichthyosis prematurity syndrome;

Acyl-CoA binding protein and epidermal barrier function by Maria Bloksgaard; Ditte Neess; Nils J. Færgeman; Susanne Mandrup (369-376).
The acyl-CoA binding protein (ACBP) is a 10 kDa intracellular protein expressed in all eukaryotic species and mammalian tissues investigated. It binds acyl-CoA esters with high specificity and affinity and is thought to act as an intracellular transporter of acyl-CoA esters between different enzymatic systems; however, the precise function remains unknown. ACBP is expressed at relatively high levels in the epidermis, particularly in the suprabasal layers, which are highly active in lipid synthesis. Targeted disruption of the ACBP gene in mice leads to a pronounced skin and fur phenotype, which includes tousled and greasy fur, development of alopecia and scaling of the skin with age. Furthermore, epidermal barrier function is compromised causing a ~ 50% increase in transepidermal water loss relative to that of wild type mice. Lipidomic analyses indicate that this is due to significantly reduced levels of non-esterified very long chain fatty acids in the stratum corneum of ACBP−/− mice. Here we review the current knowledge of ACBP with special focus on the function of ACBP in the epidermal barrier. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.Display Omitted
Keywords: Acyl-CoA binding protein; Epidermal barrier; Stratum corneum; Very long chain fatty acids; Monoalkyl–diacyl-glycerol; Ceramide;

Normal fatty aldehyde and alcohol metabolism is essential for epidermal differentiation and function. Long-chain aldehydes are produced by catabolism of several lipids including fatty alcohols, sphingolipids, ether glycerolipids, isoprenoid alcohols and certain aliphatic lipids that undergo α- or ω-oxidation. The fatty aldehyde generated by these pathways is chiefly metabolized to fatty acid by fatty aldehyde dehydrogenase (FALDH, alternately known as ALDH3A2), which also functions to oxidize fatty alcohols as a component of the fatty alcohol:NAD oxidoreductase (FAO) enzyme complex. Genetic deficiency of FALDH/FAO in patients with Sjögren–Larsson syndrome (SLS) results in accumulation of fatty aldehydes, fatty alcohols and related lipids (ether glycerolipids, wax esters) in cultured keratinocytes. These biochemical changes are associated with abnormalities in formation of lamellar bodies in the stratum granulosum and impaired delivery of their precursor membranes to the stratum corneum (SC). The defective extracellular SC membranes are responsible for a leaky epidermal water barrier and ichthyosis. Although lamellar bodies appear to be the pathogenic target for abnormal fatty aldehyde/alcohol metabolism in SLS, the precise biochemical mechanisms are yet to be elucidated. Nevertheless, studies in SLS highlight the critical importance of FALDH and normal fatty aldehyde/alcohol metabolism for epidermal function. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Ichthyosis; Sjögren–Larsson syndrome; Stratum corneum; Lamellar body; Epidermis; Membrane;

The role of lipoxygenases in epidermis by Peter Krieg; Gerhard Fürstenberger (390-400).
Lipoxygenases (LOX) are key enzymes in the biosynthesis of a variety of highly active oxylipins which act as signaling molecules involved in the regulation of many biological processes. LOX are also able to oxidize complex lipids and modify membrane structures leading to structural changes that play a role in the maturation and terminal differentiation of various cell types. The mammalian skin represents a tissue with highly abundant and diverse LOX metabolism. Individual LOX isozymes are thought to play a role in the modulation of epithelial proliferation and/or differentiation as well as in inflammation, wound healing, inflammatory skin diseases and cancer. Emerging evidence indicates a structural function of a particular LOX pathway in the maintenance of skin permeability barrier. Loss-of-function mutations in the LOX genes ALOX12B and ALOXE3 have been found to represent the second most common cause of autosomal recessive congenital ichthyosis and targeted disruption of the corresponding LOX genes in mice resulted in neonatal death due to a severely impaired permeability barrier function. Recent data indicate that LOX action in barrier function can be traced back to the oxygenation of linoleate-containing ceramides which constitutes an important step in the formation of the corneocyte lipid envelope. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Lipoxygenases; Epidermal barrier; Ceramides; Ichthyosis;

The importance of the lipoxygenase-hepoxilin pathway in the mammalian epidermal barrier by Agustí Muñoz-Garcia; Christopher P. Thomas; Diane S. Keeney; Yuxiang Zheng; Alan R. Brash (401-408).
This review covers the background to discovery of the two key lipoxygenases (LOX) involved in epidermal barrier function, 12R-LOX and eLOX3, and our current views on their functioning. In the outer epidermis, their consecutive actions oxidize linoleic acid esterified in ω-hydroxy-ceramide to a hepoxilin-related derivative. The relevant background to hepoxilin and trioxilin biochemistry is briefly reviewed. We outline the evidence that linoleate in the ceramide is the natural substrate of the two LOX enzymes and our proposal for its importance in construction of the epidermal water barrier. Our hypothesis is that the oxidation promotes hydrolysis of the oxidized linoleate moiety from the ceramide. The resulting free ω-hydroxyl of the ω-hydroxyceramide is covalently bound to proteins on the surface of the corneocytes to form the corneocyte lipid envelope, a key barrier component. Understanding the role of the LOX enzymes and their hepoxilin products should provide rational approaches to ameliorative therapy for a number of the congenital ichthyoses involving compromised barrier function. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Lipoxygenase; Linoleic acid; Hepoxilin; Ceramide; Ichthyosis; Essential fatty acid;

Survival in a terrestrial, dry environment necessitates a permeability barrier for regulated permeation of water and electrolytes in the cornified layer of the skin (the stratum corneum) to minimize desiccation of the body. This barrier is formed during cornification and involves a cross-linking of corneocyte proteins as well as an extensive remodeling of lipids. The cleavage of precursor lipids from lamellar bodies by various hydrolytic enzymes generates ceramides, cholesterol, and non-esterified fatty acids for the extracellular lipid lamellae in the stratum corneum. However, the important role of epidermal triacylglycerol (TAG) metabolism during formation of a functional permeability barrier in the skin was only recently discovered. Humans with mutations in the ABHD5/CGI-58 (α/β hydrolase domain containing protein 5, also known as comparative gene identification-58, CGI-58) gene suffer from a defect in TAG catabolism that causes neutral lipid storage disease with ichthyosis. In addition, mice with deficiencies in genes involved in TAG catabolism (Abhd5/Cgi-58 knock-out mice) or TAG synthesis (acyl-CoA:diacylglycerol acyltransferase-2, Dgat2 knock-out mice) also develop severe skin permeability barrier dysfunctions and die soon after birth due to increased dehydration. As a result of these defects in epidermal TAG metabolism, humans and mice lack ω-(O)-acylceramides, which leads to malformation of the cornified lipid envelope of the skin. In healthy skin, this epidermal structure provides an interface for the linkage of lamellar membranes with corneocyte proteins to maintain permeability barrier homeostasis. This review focuses on recent advances in the understanding of biochemical mechanisms involved in epidermal neutral lipid metabolism and the generation of a functional skin permeability barrier. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: ABHD5/CGI-58; Acylceramide; ATGL; Dorfman–Chanarin syndrome; Ichthyosis; Triglyceride;

sPLA2 and the epidermal barrier by Dusko Ilic; James M. Bollinger; Michael Gelb; Theodora M. Mauro (416-421).
The mammalian epidermis provides both an interface and a protective barrier between the organism and its environment. Lipid, processed into water-impermeable bilayers between the outermost layers of the epidermal cells, forms the major barrier that prevents water from exiting the organism, and also prevents toxins and infectious agents from entering. The secretory phospholipase 2 (sPLA2) enzymes control important processes in skin and other organs, including inflammation and differentiation. sPLA2 activity contributes to epidermal barrier formation and homeostasis by generating free fatty acids, which are required both for formation of lamellar membranes and also for acidification of the stratum corneum (SC). sPLA2 is especially important in controlling SC acidification and establishment of an optimum epidermal barrier during the first postnatal week. Several sPLA2 isoforms are present in the epidermis. We find that two of these isoforms, sPLA2 IIA and sPLA2 IIF, localize to the upper stratum granulosum and increase in response to experimental barrier perturbation. sPLA2F−/− mice also demonstrate a more neutral SC pH than do their normal littermates, and their initial recovery from barrier perturbation is delayed. These findings confirm that sPLA2 enzymes perform important roles in epidermal development, and suggest that the sPLA2IIF isoform may be central to SC acidification and barrier function. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Lipids; pH; Secretory phospholipase; sPLA2; Stratum corneum; Permeability barrier;

Ceramide synthesis in the epidermis by Mariona Rabionet; Karin Gorgas; Roger Sandhoff (422-434).
The epidermis and in particular its outermost layer the stratum corneum provides terrestrial vertebrates with a pivotal defensive barrier against water loss, xenobiotics and harmful pathogens. A vital demand for this epidermal permeability barrier is the lipid-enriched lamellar matrix that embeds the enucleated corneocytes. Ceramides are the major components of these highly ordered intercellular lamellar structures, in which linoleic acid- and protein-esterified ceramides are crucial for structuring and maintaining skin barrier integrity. In this review, we describe the fascinating diversity of epidermal ceramides including 1-O-acylceramides. We focus on epidermal ceramide biosynthesis emphasizing its metabolic and topological requirements and discuss enzymes that may be involved in α- and ω-hydroxylation. Finally, we turn to epidermal ceramide regulation, highlighting transcription factors and liposensors recently described to play crucial roles in modulating skin lipid metabolism and epidermal barrier homeostasis. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier.
Keywords: Ceramide synthesis; Epidermis; Skin barrier function; Autosomal recessive congenital ichthyosis (ARCI); 1-O-Acylceramides; Omega-esterified ceramides;

ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters form a large superfamily of transporters that bind and hydrolyze ATP to transport various molecules across limiting membranes or into vesicles. The ABCA subfamily members are thought to transport lipid materials. ABCA12 is a keratinocyte transmembrane lipid transporter protein associated with the transport of lipids via lamellar granules. ABCA12 is considered to transport lipids including ceramides to form extracellular lipid layers in the stratum corneum of the epidermis, which is essential for skin barrier function. ABCA12 mutations are known to underlie the three major types of autosomal recessive congenital ichthyoses: harlequin ichthyosis, lamellar ichthyosis and congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma. ABCA12 mutations result in defective lipid transport via lamellar granules in the keratinocytes, leading to ichthyosis phenotypes from malformation of the stratum corneum lipid barrier. Studies on ABCA12-deficient bioengineered models have revealed that lipid transport by ABCA12 is required for keratinocyte differentiation and epidermal morphogenesis. Defective lipid transport due to loss of ABCA12 function leads to the accumulation of intracellular lipids, including glucosylceramides and gangliosides, in the epidermal keratinocytes. The accumulation of gangliosides seems to result in the apoptosis of Abca12−/− keratinocytes. It was reported that AKT activation occurs in Abca12−/− granular-layer keratinocytes, which suggests that AKT activation serves to prevent the cell death of Abca12−/− keratinocytes. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: ABCA12; Apoptosis; Ceramide; Harlequin ichthyosis; Keratinocyte; Lamellar granule;

The role of sphingolipid metabolism in cutaneous permeabilitybarrier formation by Bernadette Breiden; Konrad Sandhoff (441-452).
The epidermal permeability barrier of mammalian skin is localized in the stratum corneum. Corneocytes are embedded in an extracellular, highly ordered lipid matrix of hydrophobic lipids consisting of about 50% ceramides, 25% cholesterol and 15% long and very long chain fatty acids. The most important lipids for the epidermal barrier are ceramides. The scaffold of the lipid matrix is built of acylceramides, containing ω-hydroxylated very long chain fatty acids, acylated at the ω-position with linoleic acid. After glucosylation of the acylceramides at Golgi membranes and secretion, the linoleic acid residues are replaced by glutamate residues originating from proteins exposed on the surface of corneocytes. Removal of their glucosyl residues generates a hydrophobic surface on the corneocytes used as a template for the formation of extracellular lipid layers of the water permeability barrier. Misregulation or defects in the formation of extracellular ceramide structures disturb barrier function. Important anabolic steps are the synthesis of ultra long chain fatty acids, their ω-hydroxylation, and formation of ultra long chain ceramides and glucosylceramides. The main probarrier precursor lipids, glucosylceramides and sphingomyelins, are packed in lamellar bodies together with hydrolytic enzymes such as glucosylceramide-β-glucosidase and acid sphingomyelinase and secreted into the intercelullar space between the stratum corneum and stratum granulosum. Inherited defects in the extracellular hydrolytic processing of the probarrier acylglucosylceramides impair epidermal barrier formation and cause fatal diseases: such as prosaposin deficiency resulting in lack of lysosomal lipid binding and transfer proteins, or the symptomatic clinical picture of the “collodion baby” in the absence of glucocerebrosidase. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Stratum corneum; Ceramide; Acylceramide; Sphingomyelin; Glucosylceramide; Ultra long chain fatty acid;

Ceramide signaling in mammalian epidermis by Yoshikazu Uchida (453-462).
Ceramide, the backbone structure of all sphingolipids, as well as a minor component of cellular membranes, has a unique role in the skin, by forming the epidermal permeability barrier at the extracellular domains of the outermost layer of the skin, the stratum corneum, which is required for terrestrial mammalian survival. In contrast to the role of ceramide in forming the permeability barrier, the signaling roles of ceramide and its metabolites have not yet been recognized. Ceramide and/or its metabolites regulate proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis in epidermal keratinocytes. Recent studies have further demonstrated that a ceramide metabolite, sphingosine-1-phosphate, modulates innate immune function. Ceramide has already been applied to therapeutic approaches for treatment of eczema associated with attenuated epidermal permeability barrier function. Pharmacological modulation of ceramide and its metabolites' signaling can also be applied to cutaneous disease prevention and therapy. The author here describes the signaling roles of ceramide and its metabolites in mammalian cells and tissues, including the epidermis. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Sphingolipid; Ceramide; Signaling; Keratinocyte; Epidermis;

Role of PPAR, LXR, and PXR in epidermal homeostasis and inflammation by Matthias Schmuth; Verena Moosbrugger-Martinz; Stefan Blunder; Sandrine Dubrac (463-473).
Epidermal lipid synthesis and metabolism are regulated by nuclear hormone receptors (NHR) and in turn epidermal lipid metabolites can serve as ligands to NHR. NHR form a large superfamily of receptors modulating gene transcription through DNA binding. A subgroup of these receptors is ligand-activated and heterodimerizes with the retinoid X receptor including peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR), liver X receptor (LXR) and pregnane X receptor (PXR). Several isotypes of these receptors exist, all of which are expressed in skin. In keratinocytes, ligand activation of PPARs and LXRs stimulates differentiation, induces lipid accumulation, and accelerates epidermal barrier regeneration. In the cutaneous immune system, ligand activation of all three receptors, PPAR, LXR, and PXR, has inhibitory properties, partially mediated by downregulation of the NF-kappaB pathway. PXR also has antifibrotic effects in the skin correlating with TGF-beta inhibition. In summary, ligands of PPAR, LXR and PXR exert beneficial therapeutic effects in skin disease and represent promising targets for future therapeutic approaches in dermatology. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled The Important Role of Lipids in the Epidermis and their Role in the Formation and Maintenance of the Cutaneous Barrier. Guest Editors: Kenneth R. Feingold and Peter Elias.
Keywords: Differentiation; Hormone; Keratinocyte; Lipid; Skin barrier; Stratum corneum;