Compromised epidermal barrier stimulates Harderian gland activity and hypertrophy in ACBP-/- mice

Signe Bek Sørensen, Ditte Neess, Karen Dixen, Maria Bloksgaard, Ann-Britt Marcher, John Chemnitz, Nils J Færgeman, Susanne Mandrup

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Acyl-CoA binding protein (ACBP) is a small, ubiquitously expressed intracellular protein that binds C14-C22 acyl-CoA esters with very high affinity and specificity. We have recently shown that targeted disruption of the Acbp gene leads to a compromised epidermal barrier and that this causes delayed adaptation to weaning, including the induction of the hepatic lipogenic and cholesterogenic gene programs. Here we show that ACBP is highly expressed in the Harderian gland, a gland that is located behind the eyeball of rodents and involved in the production of fur lipids and lipids used for lubrication of the eye lid. We show that disruption of the Acbp gene leads to a significant enlargement of this gland with hypertrophy of the acinar cells and increased de novo synthesis of monoalkyl diacylglycerol, the main lipid species produced by the gland. Mice with conditional targeting of the Acbp gene in the epidermis recapitulate this phenotype, whereas generation of an artificial epidermal barrier during gland development reverses the phenotype. Our findings indicate that the Harderian gland is activated by the compromised epidermal barrier as an adaptive and protective mechanism to overcome the barrier defect.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Lipid Research
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1738-1746
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


  • Acyl-CoA binding protein
  • Impaired epidermal barrier
  • Monoalkyl deacylglycerol synthesis
  • Secretion


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