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Microsc Res Tech. 1997 Aug 15;38(4):413-27.

Microfibrillar elements of the dermal matrix.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, United Kingdom.


Connective tissue microfibrils are key structural elements of the dermal matrix which play major roles in establishing and maintaining the structural and mechanical integrity of this complex tissue. Type VI collagen microfibrils form extensive microfibrillar networks which intercalate between the major collagen fibrils and are juxtaposed to cellular basement membranes, blood vessels and other interstitial structures. Fibrillin microfibrils define the continuous elastic network of skin, and are present in dermis as microfibril bundles devoid of measureable elastin extending from the dermal-epithelial junction and as components of the thick elastic fibres present in the deep reticular dermis. Electron microscopic analyses have revealed both classes of microfibrils to have complex ultrastructures. The ability to isolate intact native microfibrils from skin has enabled a combination of high resolution and biochemical techniques to be applied to elucidate their structure:function relationships. These approaches have generated new information about their molecular organisation and physiological interactions in health and disease.

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