Role of Organic osmolytes in skin, finds Study
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The epidermal barrier is important for water conservation, failure of which is evident in dry?skin conditions. Barrier function is fulfilled by the stratum corneum, tight junctions (TJs, which control extracellular water) and keratinocyte mechanisms, such as organic osmolyte transport, which regulate intracellular water homeostasis.

Researchers aimed to characterize osmolyte transporters in skin and keratinocytes, and, using transporter inhibitors, to investigate whether osmolytes can modify TJs. Such modification would suggest a possible link between intracellular and extracellular mechanisms of water regulation in skin.

Immunostaining and quantitative polymerase chain reaction of organic osmolyte?treated organ?cultured skin were used to identify changes to organic osmolyte transporters, and TJ protein and gene expression. TJ functional assays were performed on organic osmolyte?treated primary human keratinocytes in culture.

--Immunostaining demonstrated the expression of transporters for betaine, taurine and myo?inositol in transporter?specific patterns.

--Treatment of human skin with either betaine or taurine increased the expression of claudin?1, claudin?4 and occludin. Osmolyte transporter inhibition abolished this response. Betaine and taurine increased TJ function in primary human keratinocytes in vitro.

TJ structure and function are modulated in skin treated with organic osmolytes, which can contribute to the epidermal barrier. This suggests that organic osmolytes have a role other than maintaining intracellular osmolarity. This may be used to improve topical treatments for diseases characterized by a faulty skin barrier.