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J Invest Dermatol. 1995 Jan;104(1):134-7.

Ultrastructural evidence for nerve fibers within all vital layers of the human epidermis.

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Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


To prove the existence of human intraepidermal nerve fibers at the electron microscopic level, we used both conventional and immunohistochemical ultrastructural techniques. Specimens were obtained from skin of the back, one of the most densely innervated areas of the human epidermis. The immunohistochemical marker protein gene product 9.5 was chosen because it is highly potent in labeling nerves. Thin nerve fibers were found in the basal, spinous, and granular layers of the epidermis with both techniques used, although it was more difficult to identify the nervous structures with the conventional method. The nerves appeared in the intercellular spaces and contacted keratinocyte cell bodies or cilia by membrane-membrane apposition, but without any specialized structures. Nerve fibers in the very superficial part of the vital human epidermis have not been described before at the ultrastructural level.

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