Aiona's Minute Medical Text of Skin Biochemistry
by, 26th July 2011 at 08:40 AM (4371 Views)
I had a friend who passed away about 11 years ago. The anniversary of her death will be this August 13th. Her friendship really affected my life in so many ways. I'll always be indebted to her for the advice, wisdom, and jokes that she shared with me.
I remember we were discussing something once, computer programming, I believe. She explained why something I was doing wasn't working. I vented my frustration, and after a pause, she said, "Ignorance."
I was like, HUH?
And then she smiled and said, ". . . is curable." I wanted to hit her.
But she was right. There is always something to be learned.
I am galvanized tonight because of sherapop's little blog posts. I read all three of them, and post links to them below.
The Myth of Skin Chemistry Myth. Introduction
The Myth of Skin Chemistry Myth. Proof 1
The Myth of Skin Chemistry Myth. Proof 2.
The Myth of Skin Chemistry Myth. Proof 3.
I read all three of them, sherapop, because this subject interests me greatly. I am convinced there are explainable physiologic reasons for why people prefer certain scents, whether it be because neural networks of pleasurable associations were created due to life events (much as a motor vehicle accident can leave lasting impressions both psychologically and physically) or because of scent receptors that differ due to small DNA mutations or because of physical epithelial differences (also due to DNA mutations). The latter subject was the main topic of sherapop's posts.
Like you, I too believe that people have individual skin chemistries. I will give three instances also, but related more to pathological medical conditions.
I. Cystic Fibrosis
(This is basically a cut-and-paste of my comment on sherapop's web log, as I wasn't about to retype this all at 1:44 AM.)
Medical doctors have known for about half a century that there is a difference in skin chemistry. The biggest example is cystic fibrosis -- a defect in the chloride channel that is present in epithelium, not only of the skin, but also the gut, the pancreas, and the lungs. How does one diagnose cystic fibrosis? Well, before the creation of (relatively) cheap polymerase chain reaction machines, we diagnosed it with. . . MEASURING SWEAT CHLORIDE. There is a statistically significant difference between those who have a defective chloride channel, and those who do not. And it correlates well enough with PCR evidence, that it is still the gold standard for diagnosis. Why? Because we still do not know all the mutations of the chloride channel, and without the exact DNA sequence of a particular mutation, one cannot perform PCR to look for it. So currently, PCR is only used to verify known common mutations of the chloride channel.
ANYWAY. That is one pathologic difference in skin that is commonly measured in pediatric hospitals around the world.
And we only look for it because it causes problems for those who have it.
There are gazillions of possible mutations in not just chloride channels, but sodium channels, potassium channels, bicarbonate exchange, etc. We don't even know them all.
Just because we don't measure other channels, doesn't not mean that those differences do not exist.
If you suspect that someone you know has cystic fibrosis, you might wanna read the U.S. National Institutes of Health website about it at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001167/
II. Selective IgA Deficiency
I strongly encourage *everyone* to take an immunology course. At your local community college or university. Even online! (Surely, the University of Phoenix has an online course, although I am loathe to do a search to find out.)
Unless you have a immunodeficiency disorder, you are making antibodies. Right now. And everyone should be making 5 general types of antibodies. Immunoglobulin M (aka IgM), Immunoglobulin G (aka IgG), IgD, IgE, and IgA.
Each type of antibody has its own function. I'm not gonna list all their freakin' functions, because it is now 1:47 AM. But suffice it to say that IgA is secreted in epithelium (i.e. skin. . . the skin of your body, the skin of your gut, the skin of your lungs)
IgA is an antibody that is specialized to protect against any bug that wants to invade your skin.
How do we know that? Well, there are certain people who lack the ability to make IgA. And. . . the common problem that they share (and the reason they usually wind up getting diagnosed is) because they get frequent skin infections. Also pneumonia, because IgA is secreted in the "skin" of the lungs, and without it, people are less able to fight off lung pathogens.
If people are able to mobilize immune forces in skin, that means enzymatic reactions take place in the skin. Enzymes modify chemical structure. Perfumes are chemicals. Enzymes can modify perfumes.
There are other types of immunodeficiencies which manifest itself in skin. 'Not gonna list them all.
For more information about Selective IgA deficiency, I recommend the U.S. National Institute of Health's website: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001476.htm
III. Skin Changes of Pregnancy
Physiologic changes due to pregnancy is another topic which is near and dear to my heart. WHY? Because I've recently had to get rid of all my previous favorite perfumes because my preferences have undergone an irritating transformation. Irritating to my pocketbook. That's why it hurts so much. I've inherited the stingy gene.
I am convinced there are physiologic changes that one undergoes in pregnancy that affect not only one's reaction to smells, but possibly also changes in one's skin. Everyone knows that immune responses are blunted during pregnancy. It would follow that IgA secretion in skin may be affected. I wish someone would do a perfume related study on it, but there are more pressing medical issues to address, I know, and grant research resources are limited these days.
There are numerous skin conditions which are only found during pregnancy.
Linea nigra is one.
Melasma of pregnancy is another.
But another pathologic condition is. . . Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy (i.e. PUPPP) (Try saying that 5 times really fast.)
What do all of these changes have in common? They are likely induced by changes in hormones. Linea nigra and melasma are correlated with hormones of pregnancy. The hypothalamus and pituitary are hotbeds of hormones, smack dab near the limbic system.
There are some complications of delivery that can cause irreversible damage to one's hormone production. Sheehan syndrome is one example.
Why am I going on and on about hormones? Well, hormones affect the immune system. One of the common treatments for PUPPP is steroids. If steroids can affect the immune system, they can also cause changes in the skin.
It is my belief that people have different skin chemistries. Everyone can draw their own conclusions -- including Luca Turin.
It is now 2:29 AM. I am going to sleep. Thank you and goodnight.
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