The role of lipoxygenases in epidermis

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Mar;1841(3):390-400. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2013.08.005. Epub 2013 Aug 16.


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: Ceramides; Epidermal barrier; Ichthyosis; Lipoxygenases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonate 12-Lipoxygenase / genetics
  • Arachidonate 12-Lipoxygenase / metabolism*
  • Ceramides / genetics
  • Ceramides / metabolism
  • Epidermis / enzymology*
  • Epidermis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Ichthyosis, Lamellar / enzymology
  • Ichthyosis, Lamellar / genetics
  • Ichthyosis, Lamellar / pathology
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Lipoxygenase / genetics
  • Lipoxygenase / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mutation


  • Ceramides
  • ALOXE3 protein, human
  • Lipoxygenase
  • eLOX3 protein, mouse
  • ALOX12B protein, human
  • Alox12b protein, mouse
  • Arachidonate 12-Lipoxygenase