Unraveling the interactions between cold atmospheric plasma and skin-components with vibrational microspectroscopy

Konstantin Kartaschew, Meike Mischo, Sabrina Baldus, Erik Bruendermann, Peter Awakowicz, Martina Havenith


Using infrared and Raman microspectroscopy, the authors examined the interaction of cold atmospheric plasma with the skin's built-in protective cushion, the outermost skin layer stratum corneum. Following a spectroscopic analysis, the authors could identify four prominent chemical alterations caused by plasma treatment: (1) oxidation of disulfide bonds in keratin leading to a generation of cysteic acid; (2) formation of organic nitrates as well as (3) of new carbonyl groups like ketones, aldehydes and acids; and (4) reduction of double bonds in the lipid matter lanolin, which resembles human sebum. The authors suggest that these generated acidic and NO-containing functional groups are the source of an antibacterial and regenerative environment at the treatment location of the stratum corneum. Based upon the author's results, the authors propose a mechanistic view of how cold atmospheric plasmas could modulate the skin chemistry to produce positive long-term effects on wound healing: briefly, cold atmospheric plasmas have the potential to transform the skin itself into a therapeutic resource.