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Exp Dermatol. 2009 Feb;18(2):178-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0625.2008.00780.x. Epub 2008 Aug 4.

Development of a murine model to evaluate the effect of vernix caseosa on skin barrier recovery.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutics, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS), Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The aim of this study was twofold, that is the generation of a reliable model for skin barrier disruption and repair and to evaluate recovery of damaged skin after application of vernix caseosa (VC). VC was selected as its wound healing properties were suggested previously, but never clearly demonstrated. Five different levels of barrier disruption in mice, accomplished by tape-stripping, were evaluated. Disruption models such as moderate, severe #1 and #2 (transepidermal water loss (TEWL) of 31 +/- 2, 59 +/- 4 and 66 +/- 3 g/m(2)/h, respectively) showed complete recovery within 72 h. However, not all corneocytes were removed after tape-stripping. Additionally, models such as severe #3 and #4 (TEWL of 73 +/- 5 and 79 +/- 6 g/m(2)/h, respectively) with a more severe disruption were evaluated. After tape-stripping, all corneocytes were removed and the remaining epidermis was intact. However, model #3 still showed complete recovery within 72 h. With model #4, a crust was formed and almost complete recovery (approximately 90%) was obtained within only 8 days. The effect of VC application on recovery of disrupted skin was evaluated with model #3 and #4. Model #3 showed that application of VC predominantly influenced initial recovery and is therefore merely appropriate to study the effect of formulations in the initial recovery period. Topical application of VC on model #4 considerably increased initial and long-term recovery. Moreover, VC application promoted rapid formation of stratum corneum and prevented epidermal thickening. These observations not only confirm the ability of VC to enhance barrier recovery, but also suggest potential use of this treatment clinically.

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