Acute barrier disruption, regardless of the method of induction, depletes the stratum corneum intercellular lipids and this stimulates a series of lipid/DNA synthesis activities which lead to barrier recovery. After barrier disruption by tape stripping, occlusion with a water vapor-impermeable membrane inhibits barrier repair. In this study, we investigated the changes in the murine epidermis after barrier perturbation by tape stripping and three different types of surfactants (Emalex NP-12, ENP-12; sodium dodecyl sulfate, SDS; benzalkonium chloride, BKC). To examine the effect of an artificial barrier, we covered the animals with a water vapor-impermeable membrane for 3 days following barrier disruption and then exposed them to the air for 2 days. The histological findings after occlusion or air exposure were similar. However, after air exposure for 2 days, the thickness of the epidermis including the stratum corneum and the stratum granulosum layers decreased to about half that of the epidermis after occlusion. Ultrastructural examination revealed obvious distortion of the lamellar bilayers within the stratum corneum interstices immediately after barrier disruption. After 3 days of occlusion, extensive disorganization was evident in the intercellular domain of the stratum corneum, whereas 2 days after removal of the occlusion, the normal basic unit structure of the lamellar bilayers had partially reappeared. Our findings provide evidence that the kinetic pattern of barrier repair and the morphological changes are similar after occlusion following barrier disruption regardless of the mechanism of disruption.
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