Lipid of the Month

Each month we highlight a lipid of scientific interest. The LIPID MAPS® Lipid of the Month Archive lists lipids highlighted from 2015 - present.

May 2022

Lipid of the month 2-hydroperoxysqualene

Your skin has a tough job protecting you from the world. One of the many abuses it suffers is exposure to ultraviolet wavelengths of sunlight. This generates, via singlet oxygen, hydroperoxysqualene from squalene, one of the most abundant lipids on the skin surface.

As any of the double bonds in squalene can be attacked by singlet oxygen, there are six potential forms of singly hydroperoxidated squalene produced1 which have been shown to accumulate on the skin. Shown here is 2-hydroperoxy-squalene. The presence of hydroperoxysqualene triggers inflammatory reactions, maybe contributing to the body’s response to sunburn2 and even to acne3.

Hydroperoxysqualene induces expression of genes linked to inflammation but its effect has been shown to be mitigated by gamma-tocotrienol, a form of vitamin E4

So, if you’re going to be enjoying a lot of sunshine, it might be wise, along with other precautions, to top up your vitamin E.


  • Mass Spectrometric Discrimination of Squalene Monohydroperoxide Isomers
    J Oleo Science
    DOI 10.5650/jos.ess16159
  • The possible role of squalene and its peroxide of the sebum in the occurrence of sunburn and protection from the damage caused by U.V. irradiation
    J Toxicol Sci
    DOI 10.2131/jts.9.151
  • A possible role for squalene in the pathogenesis of acne. I. In vitro study of squalene oxidation
    Br J Dermatol
    DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2133.1986.tb04060.x
  • Gamma-Tocotrienol Reduces Squalene Hydroperoxide-Induced Inflammatory Responses in HaCaT Keratinocytes
    DOI 10.1007/s11745-010-3458-4

Lipid of the Month Archive