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J Invest Dermatol. 2003 Jan;120(1):79-85.

Characteristics of the epidermis and stratum corneum of hairless mice with experimentally induced diabetes mellitus.

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Basic Research Laboratory, Kanebo Ltd, Kanagawa 250-0002, Japan.


Diabetes mellitus induces many pathophysiologic changes in the skin. Even so, dermatologists still lack an animal model of diabetes that enables the direct evaluation of the various functional properties of the skin. Our group induced two types of an experimental type 1 diabetes model in hairless mice by administering either streptozotocin or alloxan, in order to examine the properties of the stratum corneum and epidermis of these animals. The plasma glucose concentrations of the mice at 3 wk after their i.v. injection were significantly higher than those of control mice (streptozotocin, 3.2-fold; alloxan, 3.7-fold). The stratum corneum water content was significantly reduced in both types of diabetic mice, whereas the transepidermal water loss remained unchanged. The amino acid content with normal epidermal profilaggrin processing was either normal or elevated in the stratum corneum of the streptozotocin-treated mice. In contrast, the stratum corneum triglyceride content in the streptozotocin-treated mice was significantly lower than the control level, even though the levels of ceramides, cholesterols, and fatty acids in the stratum corneum were all higher than the control levels. The streptozotocin-treated group also exhibited decreases in basal cell proliferation and epidermal DNA content linked with an increase in the number of corneocyte layers in the stratum corneum, suggesting that the rates of epidermal and stratum corneum turnover were slower in the streptozotocin-treated animals than in the normal controls. In contrast, there were no remarkable changes in any of the epidermal differentiation marker proteins examined. This finding in diabetic mice, namely, reduction in both the epidermal proliferation and stratum corneum water content without any accompanying impairment in the stratum corneum barrier function, is similar to that found in aged human skin. Our new animal model of diabetes will be useful for the study of diabetic dermopathy as well as the mechanisms of stratum corneum moisturization.

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