Improvement of hydration and epidermal barrier function in human skin by a novel compound isosorbide dicaprylate

Int J Cosmet Sci. 2017 Oct;39(5):518-526. doi: 10.1111/ics.12405. Epub 2017 Jul 24.


Objective: The study involved the synthesis of a novel derivative of caprylic acid - isosorbide dicaprylate (IDC) - and the evaluation of its potential in improving water homoeostasis and epidermal barrier function in human skin.

Methods: The effect of IDC on gene expression was assayed in skin organotypic cultures by DNA microarrays. The results were then confirmed for a few key genes by quantitative PCR, immuno- and cytochemistry. Final validation of skin hydration properties was obtained by four separate clinical studies. Level of hydration was measured by corneometer either by using 2% IDC lotion alone vs placebo or in combination with 2% glycerol lotion vs 2% glycerol only. A direct comparison in skin hydration between 2% IDC and 2% glycerol lotions was also carried out. The epidermal barrier function improvement was assessed by determining changes in transepidermal water loss (TEWL) on the arms before and after treatment with 2% IDC lotion versus placebo.

Results: IDC was found to upregulate the expression of AQP3, CD44 and proteins involved in keratinocyte differentiation as well as the formation and function of stratum corneum. A direct comparison between 2% IDC versus 2% glycerol lotions revealed a three-fold advantage of IDC in providing skin hydration. Severely dry skin treated with 2% IDC in combination with 2% glycerol showed 133% improvement, whereas 35% improvement was observed with moderately dry human skin.

Conclusion: Topical isosorbide dicaprylate favourably modulates genes involved in the maintenance of skin structure and function, resulting in superior clinical outcomes. By improving skin hydration and epidermal permeability barrier, it offers therapeutic applications in skin ageing.

Keywords: aquaporin-3; ceramide synthase; human clinical; hyaluronic acid receptor; isosorbide dicaprylate.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Aquaporin 3 / metabolism
  • Body Water
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Caprylates / administration & dosage
  • Caprylates / pharmacology*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Emollients / administration & dosage
  • Epidermis / drug effects*
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Glycerol / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Placebos
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Water / metabolism


  • AQP3 protein, human
  • CD44 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Caprylates
  • Emollients
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Placebos
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Water
  • Aquaporin 3
  • Glycerol