Water transport through perinatal skin Barrier function and aquaporin water channels
Sammanfattning: While constituting a well functioning interface with the aqueous environment in utero, the skin offers a poor barrier after very preterm birth. As a result, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is high, a fact which has important clinical consequences in these infants. To investigate the transport of water through perinatal skin and the potential role of aquaporin (AQP), a water channel protein, in this process, we determined TEWL in a group of extremely preterm infants, and in an experimental rat model we analyzed the expression and distribution of AQP in perinatal skin in relation to TEWL, skin surface hydration and water content. The effects of antenatal corticosteroids (ANS) and of restricted intake of fluids and nutrients on barrier characteristics of the perinatal skin and its AQP expression were also studied.In infants born at 24 and 25 weeks of gestation TEWL was very high in the first days after birth and decreased with increasing postnatal age. At a postnatal age of 4 weeks, TEWL was still twice as high as previously reported in infants born at a gestational age of 25-27 weeks and four times higher than in infants born at term. In the rat model, immunohistochemical analysis revealed that AQP1 and AQP3 are abundantly expressed in the skin. AQP1 was expressed exclusively in dermal capillaries and AQP3 in basal layers of the epidermis. AQP1 and AQP3 mRNA as assessed by semiquantitative RT-PCR was higher in fetal than in adult skin. As in infants, TEWL and skin surface hydration were inversely related to gestational age in the rat. In preterm rat pups exposed to ANS, TEWL and skin surface hydration were lower than in unexposed controls, and AQP3 expression was selectively induced by ANS. In term newborn rat pups, restriction of fluid and nutrient intake resulted in a higher skin water content and higher TEWL early after birth, while at an age of 7 days TEWL was lower in fasting rat pups than in controls, although skin water content was still higher.To conclude, TEWL is very high in extremely preterm infants early after birth and then decreases at a slower rate than previously reported for a group of slightly more mature infants. This is the first time that the distribution and gene expression of AQP1 and AQP3 have been demonstrated in perinatal skin. The localization and expression of AQP in the skin might indicate that these water channels are involved in the regulation of skin hydration and transepidermal water transport in the fetus and newborn infant.
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