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You are watching: Which epidermal cells are also called prickle cells

StatPearls . Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.



Skin is the largest organ in the human body and covers the body"s whole external surface. The is made up of three layers, the epidermis, dermis, and the hypodermis, all 3 of i beg your pardon vary substantially in their anatomy and also function. The skin"s structure is comprised of an detailed network which serves as the body’s early barrier against pathogens, UV light, and also chemicals, and mechanical injury. It additionally regulates temperature and the lot of water released into the environment. This post discusses the appropriate anatomical structures of the skin’s epidermal layer, that structure, function, embryology, vascular supply, innervation, surgical considerations, and clinical relevance.

Skin Thickness

The thickness of every layer of the skin varies relying on body an ar and categorized based on the thickness of the epidermal and also dermal layers. Hairless skin found in the palms of the hands and also soles of the feet is thickest due to the fact that the epidermis consists of an extra layer, the stratum lucidum. The upper earlier is thought about thickest based upon the thickness the the dermis, yet it is considered “thin skin” histologically because the epidermal thickness lacks the stratum lucidum layer and is thinner than hairless skin.

Layers the Epidermis

The class of the epidermis incorporate the stratum basale (the deepest section of the epidermis), stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and stratum corneum (the most superficial part of the epidermis).

Stratum basale, also well-known as stratum germinativum, is the deepest layer, separated native the dermis by the basement membrane (basal lamina) and attached come the basement membrane by hemidesmosomes. The cells discovered in this layer are cuboidal come columnar mitotically active stem cells that are constantly creating keratinocytes. This layer likewise contains melanocytes.

Stratum spinosum, 8-10 cabinet layers, also well-known as the prickle cell layer contains irregular, polyhedral cells through cytoplasmic processes, sometimes called “spines”, that prolong outward and also contact surrounding cells by desmosomes. Dendritic cells have the right to be uncovered in this layer.

Stratum granulosum, 3-5 cabinet layers, contains diamond shaped cells v keratohyalin granules and also lamellar granules. Keratohyalin granules save keratin precursors that eventually aggregate, crosslink, and type bundles. The lamellar granules save on computer the glycolipids that acquire secreted to the surface of the cells and duty as a glue, keeping the cell stuck together.

Stratum lucidum, 2-3 cell layers, present in more thick skin found in the palms and soles, is a thin clear class consisting of eleidin i beg your pardon is a revolution product the keratohyalin.

Stratum corneum, 20-30 cabinet layers, is the uppermost layer, comprised of keratin and also horny scales consisted of of dead keratinocytes, known as anucleate squamous cells. This is the layer i m sorry varies many in thickness, especially in callused skin. Within this layer, the dead keratinocytes secrete defensins which are component of our very first immune defense.

Cells of the Epidermis


Keratinocytes room the predominant cell kind of epidermis and originate in the basal layer, create keratin, and are responsible for the formation of the epidermal water barrier by making and also secreting lipids. Keratinocytes additionally regulate calcium absorption by the activation the cholesterol precursors by UVB light to type vitamin D.


Melanocytes are derived from neural crest cells and also primarily produce melanin, which is responsible for the colors of the skin. They space found between cells the stratum basale and produce melanin. UVB irradiate stimulates melanin secretion which is protective versus UV radiation, acting as a integrated sunscreen. Melanin is created during the switch of tyrosine to DOPA by the enzyme tyrosinase. Melanin climate travels from cabinet to cell by a process that counts on the lengthy processes extending from the melanocytes come the surrounding epidermal cells. Melanin granules from melanocytes room transferred via the lengthy processes come the cytoplasm that basal keratinocyte. Melanin transferred to bordering keratinocytes by “pigment donation”; involves phagocytosis of tips of melanocyte processes by keratinocytes.

Langerhans’ Cells

Langerhans cells, dendritic cells, are the skins very first line defenders and also play a far-reaching role in antigen presentation. These cells require special stains to visualize, primarily uncovered in the stratum spinosum. These cells space the mesenchymal origin, derived from CD34 hopeful stem cells of bone marrow and are component of the mononuclear phagocytic system. Lock contain Birbeck granules, tennis racket shame cytoplasmic organelles. These cells to express both MHC I and MHC II molecules, uptake antigens in skin and transport to the lymph node.

Merkel Cells

Merkel cells room oval-shaped modification epidermal cells found in stratum basale, directly over the basement membrane. These cells offer a sensory function as mechanoreceptors because that light touch, and are most populous in fingertips, though additionally found in the palms, soles, oral, and also genital mucosa. They are bound come adjoining keratinocytes by desmosomes and contain intermediate keratin filaments and also their membranes interact with complimentary nerve endings in the skin.


The dermis is linked to the epidermis in ~ the level that the basement membrane and also consists of 2 layers, of connective tissue, the papillary and reticular layers which merge with each other without clear demarcation. The papillary layer is the upper layer, thinner, composed of loosened connective tissue and contacts epidermis. The reticular layer is the depth layer, thicker, less cellular, and consists of dense connective tissue/ bundles of collagen fibers. The dermis homes the sweat glands, hair, hair follicles, muscles, sensory neurons, and blood vessels.


The hypodermis is deep to the dermis and also is additionally called subcutaneous fascia. That is the deepest great of skin and contains adipose lobules together with some skin appendages like the hair follicles, sensory neurons, and also blood vessels.

Structure and also Function

The skin has numerous functions. It serves together a barrier come water, invasion by microorganisms, mechanical and also chemical trauma, and also damage from UV light. The epidermal water barrier established by the cell envelop, a layer that insoluble protein on the inner surface of the plasma membrane. The is created by cross-linking of little proline-rich proteins and larger proteins favor cystatin, desmoplakin, filaggrin and also contributes to strong mechanics the barrier. And the lipid envelope, a lipid/hydrophobic great attached to the external surface the the plasma membrane. As keratinocytes in stratum spinosum create keratohyalin granules, they likewise produce lamellar body (containing a mixture of glycosphingolipids, phospholipids, and ceramides) assembled within Golgi.  Lamellar bodies’ components are then secreted by exocytosis right into extracellular spaces in between the stratum granulosum and corneum. Skin is the first site that immunological defense by the action of the Langerhans cell in the epidermis which room dendritic epidermal T lymphocytes and component of the adaptive immune system. The skin preserves the body homeostasis by regulating temperature and water loss, while additionally serving both endocrine and exocrine functions. The endocrine functions incorporate the manufacturing of vitamin D in the keratinocytes which room responsible for converting 7-dehydrocholesterol in the epidermis to vitamin D, through the assistance of UV light from the sun. The keratinocytes express the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and likewise contain the enzymes needed to convert vitamin D come its active kind of 1, 25 dihydroxy vitamin D. The significance of the VDR is the stimulation of the plays a duty in the proliferation that the stratum basale and also differentiation the keratinocytes as they relocate upwards in the epidermis. The exocrine features of the skin space by method of the sweat and also sebaceous glands. Another important function of the skin is a sensation to touch, heat, cold, and pain through the action of the nociceptors. The basic appearance, turgor, and also other qualities additionally give understanding into the general health of the body. <7><8><9><10> 


The epidermis is derived from ectodermal tissue. The dermis and also hypodermis are obtained from mesodermal tissue from somites. The mesoderm is also responsible for the formation of Langerhans cells. Neural crest cells, responsible for committed sensory nerve endings and melanocyte development migrate into the epidermis during epidermal development. <11><12>

Blood Supply and Lymphatics

Blood vessels and lymphatic ship are uncovered in the dermal class of the skin. Blood supply to the skin is an plan of 2 plexuses, the first lies in between the papillary and also reticular great of the dermis and the 2nd lie between the dermis and subcutaneous tissues. It is provided to the epidermis is by means of the superficial arteriovenous plexus (subepidermal/papillary plexus). These vessels are vital for temperature regulation. The mechanism through which the human body regulates temperature through the skin is really effective and works by boosted blood flow to the skin, transferring warm from the human body to the environment. The changes in blood circulation are managed by the autonomic concerned system, sympathetic stimulation bring about vasoconstriction (heat retention) and while vasodilation outcomes in heat loss. Vasodilation of the blood vessels is the response to enhanced body temperature and is the result of inhibition of the sorry centers in the posterior hypothalamus whereas decreased body temperature will reason vasoconstriction that skin blood vessels. <13> <14>


Nerves that the skin include both somatic and also autonomic nerves. The somatic sensory device is responsible for pain (nociceptors), temperature, light touch, discriminative touch, vibration, pressure, and proprioception medicated mostly by specialized cutaneous receptors/end organs consisting of Merkel disks, Pacinian corpuscles, Meissner’s corpuscles, and also Ruffini corpuscles. The autonomic innervation is responsible because that the regulate of the tone of the vasculature, pilomotor stimulation at the hair root, and sweating. The free nerve endings prolong into the epidermis and sense pain, heat, and cold. They room most numerous in the stratum granulosum layer and also surround most hair follicles. Merkel disks sense light touch and reach the stratum basale layer. The other nerve endings are uncovered in the deeper sections of the skin and include the Pacinian corpuscle i m sorry senses deep pressure, Meissner’s corpuscle i m sorry senses low-frequency stimulation in ~ the level the the dermal papillae, and Ruffini corpuscles which feeling pressure. <15><16><17>


The arrector pili muscles space bundles that smooth muscle yarn that affix to the connective tissue sheath that hair follicles. Once the muscles contract, they pull the hair follicle outward resulting in the hair erecting up but additionally compresses the sebaceous glands, resulting in the secretion of their contents. Hair does not exit perpendicularly, yet instead in ~ an angle. This erection that hair also produces goosebumps, the bumpy illustration of the skin. <18>

Physiologic Variants

Skin is repetitively shedding and also desquamating and also varies slightly depending on the body region. There are much more layers of cells in more thick hairless skin with second layer, recognized as the stratum lucidum. Overall, the procedure of cabinet division, desquamation, and shedding go together follows:

Cell division occurs in stratum basale/germinativum. One cabinet remains, an additional cell is driven toward the surface. Basal cells begin synthesis that tonofilaments (composed the keratin) which room grouped right into bundles (tonofibrils).
Cells are pushed right into stratum spinosum. In the upper component of the spinous layer, cells begin to develop keratohyalin granules having intermediate-associated proteins, filaggrin, and trichohyalin; helps accumulation keratin filaments and also conversion the granular cell to cornified cells, i.e. Keratinization. Cells additionally produce lamellar bodies.
Cells room pushed right into stratum granulosum and become flattened and diamond shaped. The cells accumulate keratohyalin granules mixed between tonofibrils.
Cells proceed to stratum corneum where they flatten and also lose organelles and nuclei.  The keratohyalin granules rotate tonofibrils right into a homogenous keratin matrix.

Surgical Considerations

Langer’s Lines, also known together cleavage lines, space topological lines supplied to specify the anxiety of the skin, matching to the alignment of collagen and also elastic fibers in the reticular dermis. Operation incisions made along these lines, less scarring will occur. <21>

Clinical Significance

There are numerous clinically far-ranging aspects that the skin, consisting of the dermatomes the the skin, skin segments divided based on the afferent nerves they are supplied through which are numbered follow to the level the spinal vertebral native which they arise. There are 7 cervical, twelve thoracic, five lumbar, and five sacral. Details diseases choose shingles, resulted in by varicella-zoster infection, have actually pain sensation and eruptive rashes that involve a dermatomal distribution. Dermatomes are helpful in the diagnosis of vertebral spinal injury levels. Aside from the dermatomes, the cell of the epidermis space susceptible come neoplastic changes resulting in assorted cancer types. Some autoimmune and immunological illness target the desmosomes and hemidesmosomes founds in the epidermis. Certain infections can additionally disrupt the integrity of the epidermis along with drug reaction that present variably together well.

Squamous cabinet carcinoma is cancer that arises indigenous mutated keratinocytes, usually as result of UV damages in individuals with kind I or II skin types (light skin, blue or eco-friendly eyes, red or blonde hair, burn and also never tan) and often appear as scaly, flaky, special red spot that might bleed or even appear wart-like. This form of skin cancer deserve to metastasize. Squamous cell carcinoma might arise indigenous actinic keratosis, which is likewise caused through sun damage to the epidermal layer of skin and also may have cutaneous horns. Basal cell carcinoma is a cancer the the basal layers of the epidermis and also is much less likely come metastasize. This type of skin cancer is an ext common in sun-exposed areas and also often show up are pearly papules ~ above the face, through telangiectasias and ulcerate easily. Melanomas are cancers of the melanocytes and also have a high metastatic potential, substantially mediated by the depth that the lesion. Melanomas can be found anywhere ~ above the body, room usually irregularly pigmented but can it is in amelanotic. Langerhans cell Histiocytosis is a form of cancer whereby Langerhans cells accumulate in the human body and an outcome in the development of granulomas, often in the bones, leading to bone pain. This granulomas can likewise appear in the skin choose rashes, erythematous papules or blisters. An exciting association with this condition is the effect of the pituitary gland, which can be impacted and people may existing with diabetes insipidus, infertility, or various other endocrine conditions due to poor hormones. Various other serious and deadly complications are due to pancytopenia (anemia, thrombocytopenia, leukocytopenia) together a direct response to overcrowding through the Langerhans cells. Merkel cell carcinoma is an uncommon cancer the the Merkel cells and is categorized as neuroendocrine little cell carcinoma

Pemphigus vulgaris is an autoimmune condition that targets the intercellular proteins, desmosomes, that attach the keratinocytes to each other. Blisters type within the epidermis and are quickly ruptured, bring about acantholysis histologically. This condition is associated with a confident nikolsky sign, peeling away from the epidermis v rubbing of the area. Bullous Pemphigoid is another blistering an illness that results in tense subepidermal blisters in larger populations, that are because of antibodies the target the hemidesmosomes that affix the epidermis at the level that the basement membrane to the extracellular matrix of the dermis. This condition is no acantholytic and is not connected with a positive nikolsky sign.

Infections that influence the integrity of the skin encompass scalded skin syndrome resulted in by the exfoliative toxin released by staphylococcal aureus bacteria infection. This infection outcomes in peeling far of the skin, positive nikolsky, an appearance of a severe burn (very red), and fever. Drug reactions like dress syndrome, erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnsons syndrome, and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis syndrome space often associated with specific medications that incorporate sulfa-containing drugs, NSAIDs, and also anti-seizure medications. <22><23><24><25><26><27><28><29>

Other Issues

The epidermal great of skin includes much of our typical flora and also the microbiome of the epidermis varies based upon the human body region. The microorganisms the inhabit ours skin surface is nonpathogenic and also can be commensal or mutualistic in nature. The bacteria that tend to predominate space staphylococci epidermidis, aureus, cutibacterium acnes, Corynebacterium, Streptococcus, candida and clostridium perfringens. Once the security skin barrier is altered, one infection can occur.  <30>




Histology, Trichodysplasia spinulosa, Trichodysplasia spinulosa polyomavirus, Healthy control on top, TS skin on the bottom, Skin over view, Epidermis, Hair follicle, Acanthosis, Eosinophilic protein granules, trichohyalin, that Stain. Added by Kazem (more...)

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