The stratum corneum: structure and function in health and disease

Dermatol Ther. 2004;17 Suppl 1:6-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1396-0296.2004.04s1001.x.


Our understanding of the formation, structure, composition, and maturation of the stratum corneum (SC) has progressed enormously over the past 30 years. Today, there is a growing realization that this structure, while faithfully providing a truly magnificent barrier to water loss, is a unique, intricate biosensor that responds to environmental challenges and surface trauma by initiating a series of biologic processes which rapidly seek to repair the damage and restore barrier homeostasis. The detailed ultrastructural, biochemical, and molecular dissection of the classic "bricks and mortar" model of the SC has provided insights into the basis of dry, scaly skin disorders that range from the cosmetic problems of winter xerosis to severe conditions such as psoriasis. With this knowledge comes the promise of increasingly functional topical therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epidermis / anatomy & histology*
  • Epidermis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Skin Diseases / physiopathology*