Derailed Ceramide Metabolism in Atopic Dermatitis (AD): A Causal Starting Point for a Personalized (Basic) Therapy

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Aug 15;20(16):3967. doi: 10.3390/ijms20163967.


Active rebuilding, stabilizing, and maintaining the lipid barrier of the skin is an encouraging disease management and care concept for dry skin, atopic dermatitis (eczema, neurodermatitis), and psoriasis. For decades, corticosteroids have been the mainstay of topical therapy for atopic dermatitis; however, innovations within the scope of basic therapy are rare. In (extremely) dry, irritated, or inflammatory skin, as well as in lesions, an altered (sphingo)lipid profile is present. Recovery of a balanced (sphingo)lipid profile is a promising target for topical and personalized treatment and prophylaxis. New approaches for adults and small children are still lacking. With an ingenious combination of commonly used active ingredients, it is possible to restore and reinforce the dermal lipid barrier and maintain refractivity. Lysosomes and ceramide de novo synthesis play a key role in attenuation of the dermal lipid barrier. Linoleic acid in combination with amitriptyline in topical medication offers the possibility to relieve patients affected by dry and itchy skin, mild to moderate atopic dermatitis lesions, and eczemas without the commonly occurring serious adverse effects of topical corticosteroids or systemic antibody administration.

Keywords: amitriptyline; antioxidants; apoptosis; atopic dermatitis; ceramide de novo synthesis; ceramide metabolism; linoleic acid; lysosome; lysosomotropic compounds; sphingolipid profile.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amitriptyline / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Ceramides / metabolism*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Linoleic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Ceramides
  • Sphingolipids
  • Amitriptyline
  • Linoleic Acid