Molecular dynamics simulations of stratum corneum lipid mixtures: A multiscale perspective

Timothy C. Moore, Christopher R. Iacovella, Anne C. Leonhard, Annette L. Bunge, C. McCabe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


The lipid matrix of the stratum corneum (SC) layer of skin is essential for human survival; it acts as a barrier to prevent rapid dehydration while keeping potentially hazardous material outside the body. While the composition of the SC lipid matrix is known, the molecular-level details of its organization are difficult to infer experimentally, hindering the discovery of structure-property relationships. To this end, molecular dynamics simulations, which give molecular-level resolution, have begun to play an increasingly important role in understanding these relationships. However, most simulation studies of SC lipids have focused on preassembled bilayer configurations, which, owing to the slow dynamics of the lipids, may influence the final structure and hence the calculated properties. Self-assembled structures would avoid this dependence on the initial configuration, however, the size and length scales involved make self-assembly impractical to study with atomistic models. Here, we report on the development of coarse-grained models of SC lipids designed to study self-assembly. Building on previous work, we present the interactions between the headgroups of ceramide and free fatty acid developed using the multistate iterative Boltzmann inversion method. Validation of the new interactions is performed with simulations of preassembled bilayers and good agreement between the atomistic and coarse-grained models is found for structural properties. The self-assembly of mixtures of ceramide and free fatty acid is investigated and both bilayer and multilayer structures are found to form. This work therefore represents a necessary step in studying SC lipid systems on multiple time and length scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-318
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2018


  • Ceramide
  • Coarse-grained
  • Multistate iterative Boltzmann inversion
  • Self-assembly
  • Skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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