The outer layer of the skin, stratum corneum (SC) is an efficient transport barrier and it tolerates mechanical deformation. At physiological conditions, the majority of SC lipids are solid, while the presence of a small amount of fluid lipids is considered crucial for SC barrier and material properties. Here we use solid-state and diffusion nuclear magnetic resonance to characterize the composition and molecular dynamics of the fluid lipid fraction in SC model lipids, focusing on the role of the essential SC lipid CER EOS, which is a ceramide esterified omega-hydroxy sphingosine linoleate with very long chain. We show that both rigid and mobile structures are present within the same CER EOS molecule, and that the linoleate segments undergo fast isotropic reorientation while exhibiting extraordinarily slow self-diffusion. The characterization of this unusual self-assembly in SC lipids provides deepened insight into the molecular arrangement in the SC extracellular lipid matrix and the role of CER EOS linoleate in the healthy and diseased skin.
Keywords: Ceramide EOS linoleate; diffusion; long periodicity phase; molecular mobility; polarization transfer solid-state NMR.