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Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2007;20(3):122-32. Epub 2006 Dec 21.

A keratinocyte's course of life.

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Department of Toxicology, Dermato-cosmetology and Pharmacognosy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.


An adequate permeability barrier function of the mammalian epidermis is guaranteed by the characteristic architecture of the stratum corneum. This uppermost layer consists of a highly organized extracellular lipid compartment which is tightly joined to the corneocytes. The generation of the extracellular lipid compartment and the transformation of the keratinocytes into corneocytes are the main features of epidermal differentiation. However, equally important is the continuous renewal of the stratum corneum, which is insured by a careful balance between the replenishment of new keratinocytes from the proliferating basal layer, and the well-orchestrated loss of the most superficial cells after the so-called 'epidermal programmed cell death'. In this overview, the complete life of keratinocytes is described, from the proliferative organization to the process of desquamation.

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