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Atomic force microscopy characterization of corneocytes

Ida O. Dulińska-Molak 1Małgorzata Lekka 2Malgorzata Lewandowska 1Monika Pasikowska 3Irena Eris 3

1. Warsaw University of Technology, Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering (InMat), Wołoska 141, Warszawa 02-507, Poland
2. Institut of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Science (IFJPAN), Radzikowskieg 152, Kraków 31-342, Poland
3. Laboratorium Kosmetyczne Dr Irena Eris (LKDIR), Armii Krajowej 12, Warszawa 05-500, Poland


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a novel technique for ex vivo analysis of epidermal stratum corneum cells (corneocytes). In this study, AFM was used to evaluate topography, elasticity and adhesion of corneocytes before and after treatment with moisturizer. Cream was applied daily on the forearm for a period of 5 days. The material for test was collected from the skin surface of volunteers using Cuderm tape strips before and after the treatment. First, changes in the morphology of the cells were evaluated. It was found that corneocyte surface was smoother after the application of the cosmetic product. The analysis also included Young’s modulus measurements. Young’s modulus is a measure of elasticity (flexibility) of the tested material. The study results prove the existence of statistically significant differences in the mechanical properties of corneocytes taken after cosmetic treatment compared to the control sample. Control corneocytes were more rigid than corneocytes taken after the 5-day cosmetic treatment. The measurements of adhesive forces was based on the estimation of the force needed to detach the AFM tip from the corneocyte surface. The results revealed a relatively wide distribution of adhesive forces in similar way to Young’s modulus values. A bigger fraction characterised by stronger tip-surface interactions was recorded for samples taken after the cosmetic treatment. The AFM analysis of corneocytes taken by tape-stripping proved that they became smoother, less rigid, with stronger adhesive bonds between them after the cosmetic treatment. In conclusion, AFM can be used as a very sensitive tool for early detection of changes in corneocytes after moisturizer usage.


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Presentation: Poster at Nano-Biotechnologia PL, by Monika Pasikowska
See On-line Journal of Nano-Biotechnologia PL

Submitted: 2012-06-27 11:44
Revised:   2012-06-27 11:44