Role of skin surface lipids in UV-induced epidermal cell changes

Arch Dermatol Res. 1991;283(3):191-7. doi: 10.1007/BF00372061.


Ultraviolet irradiation is capable of affecting skin surface lipids, especially squalene and cholesterol, both in vitro and in vivo, with generation of active lipoperoxides. The photodecomposition of the skin lipid component was carefully evaluated by capillary gas-chromatography. The effects of UV-induced lipoperoxides on human keratinocytes in culture and on guinea pig ear slices were compared with those of synthetic lipoperoxides, i.e. cumene hydroperoxide and 13-hydroperoxylinoleate. A time- and dose-dependent effect on protein synthesis and mitotic activity was observed. In cell culture low concentrations (0.05-5 micrograms/ml) of peroxidated squalene and synthetic lipoperoxides stimulated the incorporation of radiolabelled thymidine and phenylalanine, while higher concentrations (greater than 10 micrograms/ml), or longer periods of treatment, induced cellular damage. In guinea pig ear slices, the lipoperoxides (5-50 micrograms/ml) increased aminoacid incorporation and the number of epidermal pigment cells; higher concentrations (greater than 100 micrograms/ml) caused a derangement of epidermal structure. The results suggest that UV irradiation of skin generates lipoperoxides from the surface lipids which, in vitro, are capable of producing a number of changes in epidermal cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Epidermis / radiation effects*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • Lipid Peroxidation / physiology
  • Lipid Peroxides / metabolism
  • Male
  • Membrane Lipids / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / chemistry*
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays*


  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Membrane Lipids