The report describes a method for the assay of five enzymatic activities involved in establishing the stratum corneum permeability barrier: β-glucocerebrosidase, acid phosphatase, phospholipase A2 (PLA2) and two serine proteases: chymotrypsin and its activator in the stratum corneum, trypsin. The specific activities of these different enzymes have been determined along with their pH profiles and sensivities to specific inhibitors. It can be noted that only two presented a pH optimum similar to the pH of the stratum corneum. This could suggest that their activities are regulated by local variations in pH. The method was applied to a pathological situation, that of a non-eczematous dry atopic dermatitis. Atopic skin had significantly reduced trypsin activity, increased acid phosphatase and no change in the activities of three other studied enzymes. Understanding these activities can provide a tool for the characterization of skin pathologies and for the development of a certain number of applications in cosmetology and therapeutics.

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