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J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Mar;116(3):434-42.

In vivo confocal Raman microspectroscopy of the skin: noninvasive determination of molecular concentration profiles.

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Laboratory for Intensive Care Research and Optical Spectroscopy, Department of General Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam and University Hospital Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Confocal Raman spectroscopy is introduced as a noninvasive in vivo optical method to measure molecular concentration profiles in the skin. It is shown how it can be applied to determine the water concentration in the stratum corneum as a function of distance to the skin surface, with a depth resolution of 5 microm. The resulting in vivo concentration profiles are in qualitative and quantitative agreement with published data, obtained by in vitro X-ray microanalysis of skin samples. Semi-quantitative concentration profiles were determined for the major constituents of natural moisturizing factor (serine, glycine, pyrrolidone-5-carboxylic acid, arginine, ornithine, citrulline, alanine, histidine, urocanic acid) and for the sweat constituents lactate and urea. A detailed description is given of the signal analysis methodology that enables the extraction of this information from the skin Raman spectra. No other noninvasive in vivo method exists that enables an analysis of skin molecular composition as a function of distance to the skin surface with similar detail and spatial resolution. Therefore, it may be expected that in vivo confocal Raman spectroscopy will find many applications in basic and applied dermatologic research.

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