Anti-microbial and -inflammatory activity and efficacy of phytosphingosine: an in vitro and in vivo study addressing acne vulgaris

Int J Cosmet Sci. 2007 Jun;29(3):181-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2494.2007.00378.x.


Lipids are important constituents of the human epidermis. Either free and organized into broad lipid bilayers in the intercorneocytes spaces, or covalently bound to the corneocyte envelope, they play a crucial role in permeability barrier function and are major contributors to cutaneous anti-microbial defense. Free sphingoid bases are a recent addition to this family of active lipids, which emerged from studies of breakdown products from ceramides. Phytosphingosine (PS) is a lipid occurring naturally in the stratum corneum, both in its free form and as a part of the major fraction of ceramides. The biotechnological production of PS patented by Degussa yields to PS with the correct configuration present in the skin. So, application of a PS containing formulation leads to its integration into the natural lipid structures of the skin. In acne, different pathogenetic factors contribute to the inflammation process, defect in keratinization, increased sebaceous gland activity and increased colonization of Propionibacterium acnes. The results of in vitro and in vivo studies confirm the previous reports on strong anti-microbial effectiveness of skin-identical PS produced by Degussa in vitro and in vivo. In addition, PS shows excellent clinical results in the context of skin care in acne, based on both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity. These results demonstrate the potential of PS to enhance or complement existing acne therapies acting as an active cosmetic ingredient.