Skin of atopic dermatitis patients shows disturbed β-glucocerebrosidase and acid sphingomyelinase activity that relates to changes in stratum corneum lipid composition.

Boer DEC, van Smeden J, Al-Khakany H, Melnik E, van Dijk R, Absalah S, Vreeken RJ, Haenen CCP, Lavrijsen APM, Overkleeft HS, Aerts JMFG, Bouwstra JA

Patients with Atopic Dermatitis (AD) suffer from inflamed skin and skin barrier defects. Proper formation of the outermost part of the skin, the stratum corneum (SC), is crucial for the skin barrier function. In this study we analyzed the localization and activity of lipid enzymes β-glucocerebrosidase (GBA) and acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) in the skin of AD patients and controls. Localization of both the expression and activity of GBA and ASM in the epidermis of AD patients was altered, particularly at lesional skin sites. These changes aligned with the altered SC lipid composition. More specifically, abnormal localization of GBA and ASM related to an increase in specific ceramide subclasses [AS] and [NS]. Moreover we related the localization of the enzymes to the amounts of SC ceramide subclasses and free fatty acids (FFAs). We report a correlation between altered localization of active GBA and ASM and a disturbed SC lipid composition. Localization of antimicrobial peptide beta-defensin-3 (HBD-3) and AD biomarker Thymus and Activation Regulated Chemokine (TARC) also appeared to be diverging in AD skin compared to control. This research highlights the relation between correct localization of expressed and active lipid enzymes and a normal SC lipid composition for a proper skin barrier.