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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 May;1818(5):1410-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2012.02.013. Epub 2012 Feb 16.

Ethanol perturbs lipid organization in models of stratum corneum membranes: An investigation combining differential scanning calorimetry, infrared and (2)H NMR spectroscopy.

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Department of Chemistry, Center for Self-Assembled Chemical Structures (CSACS), Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre Ville, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7.


Ethanol is used in a variety of topical products. It is known to enhance the permeability of the skin by altering the ability of the stratum corneum (SC) intercellular membranes to form an effective barrier. In addition, ethanol and other alcohols are key components of antiseptic gels currently used for hand wash. Using infrared and deuterium NMR spectroscopy as well as calorimetry, we have investigated the effect of ethanol on a model membrane composed of lipids representing the three classes of SC lipids, an equimolar mixture of N-palmitoylsphingosine (ceramide), palmitic acid and cholesterol. Ethanol is found to influence the membrane in a dose dependent manner, disrupting packing and increasing lipid motion at low concentrations and selectively extracting lipids at moderate concentrations.

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