Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 6, Issue 11, pp 949–953 | Cite as

Assessment of Skin Barrier Function Using Transepidermal Water Loss: Effect of Age

  • Kathleen V. Roskos
  • Richard H. Guy


To probe age-related changes in skin barrier function, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) rates have been measured in “young” (19–42 years) and “old” (69–85 years) subjects. TEWL was determined at ventral forearm skin sites, which had been occluded for 24 hr with polypropylene chambers. Baseline TEWL rates (J, which showed no dependence on age, were measured for each subject before and after the experiment. Following removal of the occlusive chamber, TEWL was monitored continuously from t = 0.5 min until its return to the baseline (preocclusion) level, which was typically in the range of 2–7 g/m2/hr. Initial TEWL rates (mean ± SD) were found to differ significantly between young (28.6 ± 7.5 g/m2/hr; n = 26) and old (36.9 ± 10.5 g/m2/hr; n = 18) subjects (P < 0.01). Relaxation of TEWL to J was significantly slower in the aged cohort, such that the characteristic time for diffusion of water in the stratum corneum was estimated to be (mean ± SD) 176 ± 59 min for the young subjects, compared to 360 ± 76 min for the old (P < 0.001.). Thus, the initial TEWL value following removal of occlusion is significantly greater, and the excessive stratum corneum hydration produced by occlusion is dissipated more slowly, in old skin than in young. A hypothesis to explain the slower relaxation of perturbed TEWL in old skin is proposed.

transepidermal water loss age barrier function stratum corneum occlusion 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    G. F. Odland. In L. A. Goldsmith (ed.), Biochemistry and Physiology of the Skin, Oxford University Press, New York, 1983, pp. 3–63.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P. M. Elias. Int. J. Dermatol. 20:1–19 (1981).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    K. Hammarlund and G. Sedin. Acta Paediatr. Scand. 68:795–801 (1979).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    K. A. Grice and F. R. Bettley. Br. Med. J. 4:195–198 (1967).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    A. M. Kligman. J. Invest. Dermatol. 73:39–46 (1979).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    J. L. Leveque, P. Corcuff, J. De Rigal, and P. Agache. Int. J. Derm. 23:322–329 (1984).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    R. Aly, C. Shirley, B. Cunico, and H. I. Maibach. J. Invest. Dermatol. 71:378–381 (1978).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    G. E. Nilsson and P. A. Oberg. 3rd Nordic Meeting on Medical and Biological Engineering, Tampere, 53, 1975, pp. 53.1–53.3.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    G. E. Nilsson. Med. Biol. Eng. Comput. 15:209–218 (1977).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    R. C. Scott, G. J. A. Oliver, P. H. Dugard, and H. J. Singh. Arch. Dermatol. Res. 274:57–64 (1982).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    D. R. Wilson and H. I. Maibach. In H. I. Maibach and E. K. Boisits, (eds), Neonatal Skin, Structure and Function, Marcel Dekker, New York, 1982, pp. 83–100.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    C. G. T. Mathias, D. M. Wilson, and H. I. Maibach. J. Invest. Dermatol. 77:219–220 (1981).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    R. W. Baker and H. K. Lonsdale. In A. C. Tanquary and R. E. Lacey (eds.), Controlled Release of Biologically Active Agents, Plenum Press, New York, 1974, pp. 15–71.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    JANA Exponential Curve Stripping, Statistical Consultants, Inc., Lexington, Ky., 1987.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    R. M. Lavker. J. Invest. Dermatol. 73:59–66 (1979).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    R. M. Lavker, P. Zheng, and G. Dong. In B. A. Gilchrest (ed.), Dermatologic Clinics: The Aging Skin, W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1986, pp. 379–389.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    R. O. Potts, E. M. Buras, and D. A. Chrisman. J. Invest. Dermatol. 82:97–100 (1984).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    R. O. Potts and E. M. Buras. J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem. 36:169–176 (1985).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen V. Roskos
    • 1
  • Richard H. Guy
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and PharmacyUniversity of CaliforniaSan Francisco, San Francisco
  2. 2.School of PharmacyUniversity of CaliforniaSan Francisco

Personalised recommendations