Dietary glucosylceramide improves skin barrier function in hairless mice

J Dermatol Sci. 2006 Nov;44(2):101-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2006.08.005. Epub 2006 Sep 26.


Background: Sphingolipids are known to play an important role in both water retention and epidermal permeability barrier function in mammalian stratum corneum. However, little is known about the effects on epidermal function of orally administered sphingolipids.

Objective: We examined the effect of dietary glucosylceramide (GluCer) on the maintenance and recovery of epidermal barrier function.

Methods: Hairless mice were fed a particular diet (HR-AD) for 4 weeks to induce chronic skin perturbation. Subsequently, a normal diet supplemented with GluCer (from rice bran and germ) was provided for the next 4 weeks. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and stratum corneum flexibility were measured throughout this recovery phase. Additional hairless mice were fed a diet with or without a maize-extracted GluCer supplement for 5 weeks, then their skin was acutely perturbed with repeated tape-stripping, and the TEWL was measured.

Results: Although skin functions were generally lower following chronic perturbation, in GluCer-fed mice the TEWL was significantly reduced at 2 weeks and the stratum corneum flexibility was increased at 3 weeks compared to controls. Following acute barrier perturbation by tape-stripping, mice an HR-AD fed a GluCer diet exhibited enhanced recovery compared with the control diet group.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate that in hairless mice skin barrier functions impaired by chronic or acute perturbations were improved by dietary GluCer. The oral administration of GluCer may be useful for the preservation and recovery of epidermal barrier functions an HR-AD.

MeSH terms

  • Adhesives / adverse effects
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects*
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / physiology
  • Epidermis / drug effects*
  • Epidermis / injuries
  • Epidermis / pathology
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Glucosylceramides / administration & dosage
  • Glucosylceramides / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Hairless
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena / drug effects*
  • Water Loss, Insensible / drug effects
  • Water Loss, Insensible / physiology


  • Adhesives
  • Glucosylceramides