Skin Blotting: A Noninvasive Technique for Evaluating Physiological Skin Status

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The skin performs important structural and physiological functions, and skin assessment represents an important step in identifying skin problems. Although noninvasive techniques for assessing skin status exist, no such techniques for monitoring its physiological status are available. This study aimed to develop a novel skin-assessment technique known as skin blotting, based on the leakage of secreted proteins from inside the skin following overhydration in mice. The applicability of this technique was further investigated in a clinical setting.

DESIGN:

Skin blotting involves 2 steps: collecting proteins by attaching a damp nitrocellulose membrane to the surface of the skin, and immunostaining the collected proteins. The authors implanted fluorescein-conjugated dextran (F-DEX)–containing agarose gels into mice and detected the tissue distribution of F-DEX under different blotting conditions. They also analyzed the correlations between inflammatory cytokine secretion and leakage following ultraviolet irradiation in mice and in relation to body mass index in humans.

MAIN RESULTS:

The F-DEX in mice was distributed in the deeper and shallower layers of skin and leaked through the transfollicular and transepidermal routes, respectively. Ultraviolet irradiation induced tumor necrosis factor secretion in the epidermis in mice, which was detected by skin blotting, whereas follicular tumor necrosis factor was associated with body mass index in obese human subjects. These results support the applicability of skin blotting for skin assessment.

CONCLUSIONS:

Skin blotting represents a noninvasive technique for assessing skin physiology and has potential as a predictive and diagnostic tool for skin disorders.

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