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Vet Pathol. 2001 Nov;38(6):720-3.

Electron microscopic observations of stratum corneum intercellular lipids in normal and atopic dogs.


The barrier function of mammalian skin is maintained by intercellular stratum corneum lipids. In human patients with atopic dermatitis, an abnormal lipid barrier results in dry skin and increased transepidermal water loss. At this time, it is not known if a defective lipid barrier is present in atopic dogs. Normal and atopic canine skin were postfixed in ruthenium tetroxide and studied using transmission electron microscopy to determine structural differences within stratum corneum lipids. Intercellular lipid lamellae were graded on a semiquantitative scale. The deposition of stratum corneum lipid lamellae in atopic canine skin appeared markedly heterogeneous compared with that seen in normal canine skin. When present, the lamellae often exhibited an abnormal structure. The continuity and thickness of the intercellular lipid lamellae were significantly less in nonlesional atopic than in normal canine skin. These preliminary observations suggest that the epidermal lipid barrier is defective in atopic canine skin. Additional studies are needed to further characterize the biochemical defect and to possibly correct it with nutritional and/or pharmacologic intervention.

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