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Role of linoleic acid in arsenical palmar keratosis.

BACKGROUND: Chronic arsenic exposure can lead to palmoplantar keratosis. In the stratum corneum of skin, linoleic acid is of the utmost importance to the inflammation, keratinization, and regeneration processes.

OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were: (i) to present quantitative information on the linoleic acid fraction of intercorneocyte lipids, and (ii) to elucidate the role of linoleic acid in the pathophysiology of arsenical keratosis.

METHODS: Lipid extracts were collected from keratotic lesions in seven patients, seven arsenic-exposed subjects, and seven non-exposed control subjects. Linoleic acid levels of the specimens were estimated by reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC).

RESULTS: There was a significant (P < 0.001) increase in mean ± standard error (SE) linoleic acid levels in arsenical keratosis patients (palm: 25.66 ± 4.95 μg/cm(2); dorsum: 28.25 ± 6.20 μg/cm(2)) compared with arsenic-exposed (palm: 2.75 ± 0.85 μg/cm(2); dorsum: 1.96 ± 0.64 μg/cm(2)) and non-exposed (palm: 1.52 ± 0.61 μg/cm(2); dorsum: 1.28 ± 0.39 μg/cm(2)) control subjects. There was no significant difference (P = 0.556) in linoleic acid concentration in the non-affected skin of the dorsum of the hand (28.25 ± 6.20 μg/cm(2)) compared with that in the palmar sites (25.66 ± 4.95 μg/cm(2)) in the patient group. The change in linoleic acid levels in the arsenic-exposed control group did not differ from that in non-exposed controls (P = 1.000).

CONCLUSIONS: Linoleic acid concentration is elevated in arsenical keratosis; this finding warrants further investigation to ascertain whether linoleic acid plays a direct role in the pathophysiology of arsenical keratosis.

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