Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy lipid substance present in the plasma of blood and in virtually all the animal tissues. It belongs to steroid family and is an organic compound. In its pure state it is white, crystalline substance that is tasteless and odorless. Cholesterol circulates in bloodstream and is synthesized by the liver.

Cholesterol’s Role in Skin Diseases

Cholesterol is the most abundant individual lipid in the upper most layer of the skin, about 25 percent of the stratum corneum lipid mass is cholesterol. This high percentage appears to be regarding it a saturating level [1]. Cholesterol is an essential part of membrane lipid structure and plays a key role in fluidizing the membrane or making them stiffer, depending upon the composition and presence of other lipid components and the proportion of cholesterol relative to other components [2]. Whereas, it plays a pivotal role in maintaining a degree of fluidity to the epidermal waterproof barrier. This is essential for flexibility and stability of barrier which otherwise might be rigid and brittle.

Cholesterol Helpful in Skin Diseases

Ichthyosis is a skin disorder characterized by excessively dry skin with the formation of surface scales [3]. It is attributed to be the disorder of keratinization and may arise due to the abnormal epidermal differentiation.

The basic abnormality in the skin of these patients is considered to be due to the deficiency of an enzyme called steroid sulphatase in skin. This deficiency results in an increase of cholesterol sulphate whereas the free sterol levels are decreased to a greater degree. The drugs that interfere or disturb the cholesterol synthesis may produce dermatosis similar to ichthyosis

A research was conducted in which the affected patients were given topical treatment in the form of cholesterol cream, it was found that the cholesterol cream produced a positive effect on the skin and no untoward effect was observed. [4]

References

  1. Lavrijsen AP, Bouwstra JA, Gooris GS, Weerheim A, Bodde HE, Ponec M. Reduced skin barrier function parallels abnormal stratum corneum lipid organization in patients with lamellar ichthyosis. J Invest Dermatol 1995; 105: 619 ± 624.
  2. Wertz PW. Lipids and barrier function of the skin. Acta Dermato-Venereologica. 2000 Jan 2;80.
  3. Epstein EH Jr, Williams ML, Elias PM. Steroid sulfatase, X-linked ichthyosis, and stratum corneum cell cohesion. Arch Dermatol 1981; 117: 761-63
  4. Lykkesfeldt G, Høyer H. Topical cholesterol treatment of recessive X-linked ichthyosis. The Lancet. 1983 Dec 10;322(8363):1337-8.
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