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J Morphol. 1990 Jan;203(1):55-68.

Dermal extracellular lipid in birds.

Author information

1
Department of Anatomy, School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907.

Abstract

A light and electron microscopic study of the skin of domestic chickens, seagulls, and antarctic penguins revealed abundant extracellular dermal lipid and intracellular epidermal lipid. Dermal lipid appeared ultrastructurally as extracellular droplets varying from less than 1 micron to more than 25 microns in diameter. The droplets were often irregularly contoured, sometimes round, and of relatively low electron density. Processes of fibrocytes were often seen in contact with extracellular lipid droplets. Sometimes a portion of such a droplet was missing, and this missing part appeared to have been "digested away" by the cell process. In places where cells or cell processes are in contact with fact droplets, there are sometimes extracellular membranous whorls or fragments which have been associated with the presence of fatty acids. Occasionally (in the comb) free fat particles were seen in intimate contact with extravasated erythrocytes. Fat droplets were seen in the lumen of small dermal blood and lymph vessels. We suggest that the dermal extracellular lipid originates in the adipocyte layer and following hydrolysis the free fatty acids diffuse into the epidermis. Here they become the raw material for forming the abundant neutral lipid contained in many of the epidermal cells of both birds and dolphins. The heretofore unreported presence and apparently normal utilization of abundant extracellular lipid in birds, as well as the presence of relatively large droplets of neutral lipid in dermal vessels, pose questions which require a thorough reappraisal of present concepts of the ways in which fat is distributed and utilized in the body.

PMID:
2304082
DOI:
10.1002/jmor.1052030107
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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