Given these findings, UCSF researchers studied whether activators of PPAR alpha and FXR accelerated the maturation of the SC and the epidermal barrier in fetal rats during normal gestation.
Rats, who have a normal gestation of 22 days, were injected with activators through the amniotic fluid at 17 days. Control groups received placebo injections which lacked activators. Premature rats were then delivered on day 19.
Researchers measured both structure and function of the skin barrier in the premature rats.
"Activators accelerated the development of the competent skin barrier" according to Williams. "Rats injected with PPAR alpha or FXR activators exhibited less water loss than the control groups."
Researchers found that fetal rats who received the activators developed a competent barrier by 19 days. Normally a skin barrier does not develop in rats until 21 days.
A distinct SC was present in treated rats while those in the control groups lacked a well-defined SC. The activity of two enzymes involved in the formation of the SC were also increased in fetal rats with activators.
Finally, proteins associated with a mature SC and a competent barrier were present in the rats injected with the activators, but not in the control groups.
The co-investigator on the study is Kenneth Feingold, MD, UCSF professor of medicine and dermatology.
Notes to media:
To arrange an interview with Mary Williams, MD, during the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting, contact Jennifer Donovan at (504) 670-8502 in the press office for the meeting.
To contact Dr. Williams at UCSF, call Lordelyn P. del Rosario, at (415) 476-2557.