Depletion of human stratum corneum vitamin E: an early and sensitive in vivo marker of UV induced photo-oxidation

J Invest Dermatol. 1998 May;110(5):756-61. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.1998.00169.x.


As the outermost barrier of the body, the stratum corneum (SC) is frequently and directly exposed to a pro-oxidative environment, including ultraviolet solar radiation (UVR). Therefore, we hypothesized that the SC is susceptible to UVR induced depletion of vitamin E, the major lipophilic antioxidant. To test this, we investigated (i) the susceptibility of SC tocopherols to solar simulated UVR in hairless mice, (ii) the baseline levels and distribution patterns of tocopherols in human SC, and (iii) the impact of a suberythemogenic dose of solar simulated UVR on human SC tocopherols. SC tocopherol levels were measured by high performance liquid chromotography analysis of SC extracts from tape strippings. In murine SC, overall tocopherol concentrations were determined, whereas in human SC, 10 consecutive layers were analyzed for each individual. The results on SC tocopherols demonstrated (i) their concentration dependent depletion by solar simulated UVR in hairless mice; (ii) a gradient distribution within untreated human SC, with the lowest levels at the surface (alpha-tocopherol 6.5 +/- 1.4 pmol per mg, and gamma-tocopherol 2.2 +/- 1.3 pmol per mg) and the highest levels in the deepest layers (alpha-tocopherol 76 +/- 12 pmol per mg, and gamma-tocopherol 7.9 +/- 3.7 pmol per mg, n = 10; p < 0.0001); and (iii) the depletion of tocopherols in human SC by a single suberythemogenic dose of solar simulated UVR (alpha-tocopherol by 45%, and gamma-tocopherol by 35% as compared with controls; n = 6; both p < 0.01). These results demonstrate that the SC is a remarkably susceptible site for UVR induced depletion of vitamin E.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Hairless
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Ultraviolet Rays*
  • Vitamin E / metabolism*
  • Vitamin E / radiation effects


  • Vitamin E
  • Malondialdehyde