Rosmarinic Acid, as an NHE1 Activator, Decreases Skin Surface pH and Improves the Skin Barrier Function

Seung‐Won Jung, Gi Hyun Park, Eunjung Kim, Kang Min Yoo, Hea Won Kim, Jin Soo Lee, Min Youl Chang, Kyong Oh Shin, Kyungho Park, Eung Ho Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Stratum corneum (SC) pH regulates skin barrier functions and elevated SC pH is an im‐ portant factor in various inflammatory skin diseases. Acidic topical formulas have emerged as treat‐ ments for impaired skin barriers. Sodium proton exchanger 1 (NHE1) is an important factor in SC acidification. We investigated whether topical applications containing an NHE1 activator could im‐ prove skin barrier functions. We screened plant extracts to identify NHE1 activators in vitro and found Melissa officinalis leaf extract. Rosmarinic acid, a component of Melissa officinalis leaf extract, significantly increased NHE1 mRNA expression levels and NHE1 production. Immunofluorescence staining of NHE1 in 3D‐cultured skin revealed greater upregulation of NHE1 expression by NHE1 activator cream, compared to vehicle cream. Epidermal lipid analysis revealed that the ceramide level was significantly higher upon application of the NHE1 activator cream on 3D‐cultured skin, compared to application of a vehicle cream. In a clinical study of 50–60‐year‐old adult females (n = 21), application of the NHE1 activator‐containing cream significantly improved skin barrier func‐ tions by reducing skin surface pH and transepidermal water loss and increasing skin hydration, compared to patients who applied vehicle cream and those receiving no treatment. Thus, creams containing NHE1 activators, such as rosmarinic acid, could help maintain or recover skin barrier functions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3910
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Apr 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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