Effects of nerolidol and limonene on stratum corneum membranes: A probe EPR and fluorescence spectroscopy study

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The sesquiterpene nerolidol and the monoterpene limonene are potent skin-permeation enhancers that have also been shown to have antitumor, antibacterial, antifungal and antiparasitic activities. Because terpenes are membrane-active compounds, we used electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy of three membrane spin labels combined with the fluorescence spectroscopy of three lipid probes to study the interactions of these terpenes with stratum corneum (SC) intercellular membranes. An experimental apparatus was developed to assess the lipid fluidity of hydrated SC membranes via the fluorescence anisotropy of extrinsic membrane probes. Both EPR and fluorescence probes indicated that the intercellular membranes of neonatal SC rats undergo a main phase transition at approximately 50 °C. Taken together, the results indicated that treatment with 1% nerolidol (v/v) caused large fluidity increases in the more ordered phases of SC membranes and that these effects gradually decreased with increasing temperature. Additionally, compared with (+)-limonene, nerolidol was better able to change the SC membrane dynamics. EPR and fluorescence data suggest that these terpenes act as spacers in lipid packaging and create increased lipid disorder in the more ordered regions and phases of SC membranes, notably leading to a population of probes with less restricted motion.Graphical abstractHighlightsThe effects of nerolidol on stratum corneum lipid dynamics decrease with temperature.The phase transitions of the membranes were smooth, as indicated by the lipid dynamics.Nerolidol was more effective than (+)-limonene at increasing membrane fluidity.

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