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November 1991

n-Alkanes in the Skin

Author Affiliations

Department of Dermatology University of Düsseldorf Moorenstrasse 5, W-4000 Düsseldorf 1, Germany

Arch Dermatol. 1991;127(11):1727-1728. doi:10.1001/archderm.1991.01680100131021

To the Editor.—  In their interesting review concerning nalkanes in the skin that appeared in the July 1990 issue of the Archives, Elias et al1 stressed the importance of epidermal lipids, and especially w-alkanes, for epidermal barrier function, and discussed whatever function (or fancy) the later lipid class possesses. The dispute regards the question of the endogenous or exogenous origin of w-alkanes. Elias and coworkers believe that at least a part of alkanes are of endogenous origin. One important point in favor of endogenous synthesis is the massive increase of hydrocarbons in some disorders of cornification. Especially in nonbullous congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma (CIE), w-alkanes were found to constitute up to 35% of total lipids, fourfold as high as in the nonerythrodermic lamellar ichthyosis (LI) and control samples.2 These investigations, however, were never repeated by other laboratories.We analyzed lipids in the stratum corneum of

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