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Examining Skin: A Functional Barrier

By: Marie Alice Dibon, PharmD
Posted: March 2, 2012, from the March 2012 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 6 of 13

At the granular level, tight junctions regulate the penetration of certain high molecular weight components such as serin protease, which results in a modulation of the effect of enzymatic peels on the skin. Tight junctions buffer the enzymatic peels, preventing the enzymes from going where they could do some damage, beyond the upper strata of the stratum corneum. The enzymes’ activity is then restricted to the surface of the skin.

The Actin Connection

Tight junctions also fulfill a very important structural role: anchoring two cells together. Cadherin and adheren are among the main components of tight junctions, acting as this anchor. They are also anchored to a very important intracellular structure: the actin.

Actin filaments do many things in a cell, but they are interesting in this discussion due to two functions in particular:

  • Actin allows the cells to move (cell motility).
  • Actin filaments are part of the cytoskeleton, which gives shape and structure to a cell.

The fact that actin is bound to the components of the tight junctions adds to the whole stratum corneum structure—both in terms of rigidity and flexibility. It creates a continuum between cells and intercellular liaisons. It creates coherence.

The subtle interactions that take place there are what allows skin to be strong yet flexible, along with the very important keratin structure.

Flexible Stratum Corneum to Prevent Wrinkles

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