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Merkel cell

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Title: Merkel cell  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Merkel nerve ending, Neural crest, Nervous tissue cells, Merkel (disambiguation), Dendrite (non-neuronal)
Collection: Nervous Tissue Cells, Skin Anatomy
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Merkel cell

Merkel cell
Diagram of human skin. In humans, Merkel cells (yellow dot) are found clustered beneath the epidermal ridges (aka fingerprints).
NeuroLex ID Merckel disc cell
Anatomical terminology

Tactile cells, Merkel cells, or Merkel-Ranvier cells are oval receptor cells found in the skin of vertebrates that have synaptic contacts with somatosensory afferents. They are associated with the sense of light touch discrimination of shapes and textures. They can turn malignant and form the skin tumor known as Merkel cell carcinoma.[1]

It has been reported that they are derived from neural crest cells,[2] but more recent experiments in mammals have indicated that they are in fact epithelial in origin.[3]


  • Location 1
  • Function 2
  • Developmental origin 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Merkel cell.

Merkel cells are found in the skin and some parts of the mucosa of all vertebrates. In mammalian skin, they are clear cells found in the stratum basale (at the bottom of sweat duct ridges) of the epidermis approximately 10 µm in diameter. They also occur in epidermal invaginations of the plantar foot surface called rete ridges.[4] Most often, they are associated with sensory nerve endings, when they are known as Merkel nerve endings (also called a Merkel cell-neurite complex). They are associated with slowly adapting (SA1) somatosensory nerve fibers.


Friedrich Sigmund Merkel referred to these cells as Tastzellen or "touch cells" but this proposed function has been controversial as it has been hard to prove. However, genetic knockout mice have recently shown that Merkel cells are essential for the specialized coding by which afferent nerves resolve fine spatial details.[5] Merkel cells are sometimes considered APUD cells (an older definition. More commonly classified as a part of dispersed neuroendocrine system) because they contain dense core granules, and thus may also have a neuroendocrine function.

Developmental origin

The origin of Merkel cells has been debated for over 20 years. Evidence from skin graft experiments in birds implies that they are neural crest derived, but experiments in mammals now demonstrate an epidermal origin.[6][7]

See also


  1. ^ Munde, Prashant (17 Jan 2014). "Pathophysiology of merkel cell". Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology 17 (3): 408–412.  
  2. ^ K. I. Baumann; Zdenek Halata; I. Moll (2003). The Merkel cell: structure-development-function- cancerogenesis. Springer. pp. 99–.  
  3. ^ Morrison, Kristin; George R. Miesegaes; Ellen A. Lumpkin; Stephen M. Maricich (2009). "Mammalian Merkel cells are descended from the epidermal lineage.". Developmental Biology 336.  
  4. ^ Halata, Z; Grim, M; Bauman, KI (2003). "Friedrich Sigmund Merkel and his "Merkel cell", morphology, development, and physiology: review and new results". The Anatomical Record Part A: Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology 1) (271): 225–39.  
  5. ^ Maricich SM, Wellnitz SA, Nelson AM, Lesniak DR, Gerling GJ, Lumpkin EA, Zoghbi HY. (2009). "Merkel Cells are Essential for Light Touch Responses". Science 324 (5934): 1580–82.  
  6. ^ Morrison KM, Miesegaes GR, Lumpkin EA, Maricich SM. (September 25, 2009). "Mammalian Merkel cells are descended from the epidermal lineage". Dev Biol 336 (1): 76–83.  
  7. ^ Van Keymeulen A, Mascre G, Youseff KK, Harel I, Michaux C, De Geest N, Szpalski C, Achouri Y, Bloch W, Hassan BA, Blanpain C. (2009). "Epidermal progenitors give rise to Merkel cells during embryonic development and adult homeostasis". J Cell Biol 1 (187): 91–100.  

External links

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