Lipid composition of the stratum corneum in different regions of the body of Kuhl's pipistrelle from the Negev Desert, Israel

Alexis Cockley, Alex M. Champagne, Miriam Ben-Hamo, Berry Pinshow, Carmi Korine, Agustí Muñoz-Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The most superficial epidermal layer in endotherms is the stratum corneum (SC), which is composed of dead corneocytes embedded in a lipid matrix with free fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides, and cerebrosides; the lipid composition of the SC determines its permeability to water vapor. Lipids that are more polar, have longer hydrocarbon chains, and are less bulky are often packed in more ordered phase states to slow cutaneous evaporative water loss (CEWL); these lipids also resist transitions to more disordered phases at high ambient temperatures (Ta). In bats, wing and tail membranes (wing patagia and tail uropatagium, respectively) allow powered flight, but increase surface area, and hence CEWL, with implications for survival in arid environments. We captured Pipistrellus kuhlii from an arid habitat and measured the lipid composition of the SC of the plagiopatagium in the wing, the uropatagium, and the non-membranous region (NMR) of the body using thin layer chromatography and reversed phase high performance liquid chromatography coupled with atmospheric pressure photoionization mass spectrometry. The patagia contained more cholesterol and shorter-chained ceramides, and fewer cerebrosides than the NMR, indicating that the lipid phase transition temperature in the patagia is lower than in the NMR. Thus, at moderate Ta the lipids in the SC in all body regions will remain in an ordered phase state, allowing water conservation; but as Ta increases, the lipids in the SC of the patagia will more easily transition into a disordered phase, resulting in increased CEWL from the patagia facilitating efficient heat dissipation in hot environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111074
JournalComparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Desert bats
  • Epidermal lipids
  • Kuhl's pipistrelle
  • P. kuhlii
  • Stratum corneum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology


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