Tape Strips in Dermatology Research

A. J. Hughes; S. S. Tawfik; K. P. Baruah; E. A. O'Toole; R. F. L. O'Shaughnessy


The British Journal of Dermatology. 2021;185(1):26-35. 

In This Article

Alternatives to Tape Stripping

The gold standard will continue to be skin biopsies, as biopsies access more substantial tissue to a deeper level.[55] TS are representative of biopsies; Kim et al. showed expression of five terminal differentiation genes (FLG, loricrin, keratin-1, involucrin and corneodesmosin) from 20 TS positively correlated with the gene expression from matching biopsies.[3] TS have several advantages, as certain genes have more pronounced differential expression in TS than in biopsies,[2,5,51] possibly because biopsies dilute measured differences of genes expressed in the upper epidermis.[5] Dyjack et al. compared RNA transcriptome expression in TS samples with matching biopsies that had been split into epidermal and dermal components.[51] They found that terminal differentiation genes were most highly expressed in the TS samples and were least expressed in the dermis, suggesting that TS more accurately represent terminal differentiation gene expression.[51] Both nonlesional AE and nonlesional psoriasis show greater differential gene expression for inflammatory markers (Th2 in AE, Th1 in psoriasis) using TS when compared with biopsies.[2,5,8] He et al. identified a biomarker to differentiate AE from psoriasis from one gene (NOS2/iNOS) using TS, but required two genes from biopsies.[5]

Suction cupping uses suction pressure to create a blister, where fluid can be aspirated and the epidermis removed. This is an alternative to TS, as proteins, lipids and RNA can be extracted from a single sample. Svoboda et al. directly compared TS with suction cupping and found that suction cupping provided higher total protein and RNA yield, with more proteins and genes detectable on Western blotting and q-PCR, respectively.[55] However, the formation of a blister and needle aspiration can deter patients. Furthermore, suction cupping is more time-intensive and requires specialist training.[11]

Raman spectroscopy is a noninvasive method that uses the scattering of light to detect small molecules within the epidermis, including lipids and NMF. Koppes et al. compared TS with Raman spectroscopy.[45] Although both methods measure different NMF components, there was a strong correlation of both total and depth-dependent NMF concentration.[45] The group concluded that both methods had comparable performance.[45]