Only skin deep? New insights on retinoic acid in skin development



Skin protects us from foreign organisms and allergens, but how it develops into a protective barrier is still unknown. Molecular-level understanding of the process could lead to treatments for skin conditions and diseases.


IRP scientists led by Maria Morasso, Ph.D., discovered that high levels of retinoic acid—a popular skin cream ingredient—during embryonic development in mouse models resulted in abnormalities of the epidermis, the outermost skin layer, and interfered with the skin’s normal barrier function.


The new insights into abnormal skin development open a door that may lead to treatments for aberrant skin growth and barrier dysfunction associated with conditions ranging from hypothermia and prenatal dehydration to atopic dermatitis.


Okano J, Lichti U, Mamiya S, Aronova M, Zhang G, Yuspa S.H, Hamada H, Sakai Y and Morasso MI. (2012). Increased retinoic acid levels through ablation of Cyp26b1 determine the processes of embryonic skin barrier formation and peridermal development. J Cell Sci. 125(Pt 7), 1827-36.