Glycolipids in mammalian epidermis: structure and function in the water barrier

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Science  24 Sep 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4566, pp. 1261-1262
DOI: 10.1126/science.7112128


In the epidermis of terrestrial vertebrates, lipid lamellae between the horny cells are thought to form a barrier to water loss. The lipids are extruded from living cells after assembly in lamellar granules. This assembly might be promoted by recently identified 1-(3'-O-acyl)-beta-D-glucosyl-N-(omega-hydroxyacyl)sphingosines, which have 30- and 32-carbon hydroxy acids as amides and linoleic acid esterified to glucose. Such a role for these molecules could explain the effects of essential fatty acid deficiency, in which the lamellar granules fail to assemble and the barrier to water diffusion is lost.