Depth profiles of hydrogen bound water molecule types and their relation to lipid and protein interaction in the human stratum corneum in vivo
Confocal Raman microscopy has been used to measure depth-dependent profiles of human SC in vivo in the high wavenumber (HWN) region. In order to keep the linearity of HWN region boundaries and to not remove an informative signal from Raman spectra, a new baseline subtraction procedure has been introduced. After baseline subtraction, the HWN spectrum was deconvoluted using 10 Gaussian functions with individual chemical meanings. The results show that the hydrogen bound water molecule types contributed differently to the water diffusion process in the SC. The most concentrated double donor–double acceptor (DDAA) and single donor–single acceptor (DA) water molecule types in the SC represent more than 90% of the SC's water and mostly contribute to the water flux in the skin. Single donor–double acceptor (DAA) and weakly-bound water molecule types represent less than 10% of the SC's water content. The most tightly hydrogen bound water molecule type, DAA, reaches its maximum concentration near the skin surface and does not take part in the water diffusion process via the SC. The results show that the hydrogen bonding state of water (DA/DDAA water molecule type ratio) reaches its maximum at the depth of approx. 30% of the SC thickness, which correlates well with the maximum lateral packing order of intercellular lipids (ICL) and the natural moisturizing factor (NMF), and does not coincide with the folding/unfolding state of keratin. The NMF's contribution to the bonding of water in the SC is supposed to dominate over that of ICL.