Changes in keratinocyte differentiation following mild irritation by sodium dodecyl sulphate

  • Mai Le
  • Joost Schalkwijk
  • Georges Siegenthaler
  • Peter C. M. van de Kerkhof
  • Jacques H. Veerkamp
  • Pieter G. M. van der Valk
Original Paper


Although the induction of acute irritant dermatitis by detergents has been studied extensively in recent years, our understanding of the cell biological events in the repair phase, and its relevance for the development of chronic irritant dermatitis is limited. Here we studied the reaction pattern of human skin to short-term application of sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS) in a model that induced a minimal acute inflammatory reaction (absence of polymorphonuclear leucocytes, PMN) and did not have cytopathic effects on the epidermal keratinocytes as determined by histological investigation. All parameters were measured up to 14 days after exposure to SDS. Application of SDS caused disturbances of barrier function as measured by transepidermal water loss and had vascular effects as judged by erythema. Several cell biological markers for epidermal growth and differentiation were examined by immunohistochemistry. A rapid and strong induction of the cornified envelope precursor protein involucrin was seen in the stratum spinosum, with a peak at 24 h. Within 24 h a strong upregulation of epidermal fatty acid binding protein (E-FABP) was noted, with a peak at 7 days after injury. Cellular proliferation in the basal layer was increased fivefold as assessed by nuclear staining for the Ki-67 antigen, showing a peak at 48 h. Surprisingly, no significant induction of cytokeratin 16 and SKALP/elafin expression, two markers associated with epidermal hyperproliferation and inflammation, was seen. These findings suggest that the cellular changes following exposure to detergent are distinct from those seen in other forms of skin injury. We would speculate that the epidermal response to detergent exposure is primarily directed at restoration of barrier function.

Key words

Irritant dermatitis Keratinocytes Sodium Dodecyl sulphate 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mai Le
    • 1
  • Joost Schalkwijk
    • 1
  • Georges Siegenthaler
    • 2
  • Peter C. M. van de Kerkhof
    • 1
  • Jacques H. Veerkamp
    • 3
  • Pieter G. M. van der Valk
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyUniversity Hospital NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyUniversity HospitalGeneva 14Switzerland
  3. 3.Department of BiochemistryUniversity Hospital NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands

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