The Histology Guide

Cells in the dermis and epidermis.

Keratinocytes

Can you identify the keratinocytes and melanocytes in the photo

Also called prickle cells, these are the most common, and make up the majority of the cells (about 90%) in the epidermis.

Melanocytes

these are only found in the basal layer. They are important pigment (melanin) producing cells. They have long processes which run in the spaces between the prickle cells. Click here to find out more about skin pigmentation.

Langherhans cells

Can you find a Langherans cell in the photo?

These are found in the stratum spinosum layer of the epidermis. They are irregularly shaped dendritic cells, without keratin filaments of melanosomes, and they are antigen presenting cells. They play a role in facilitating skin allergic reactions.

Merkel Cells

These are granular basal epidermal cells, attached to a free (non-myelinated) nerve ending, which are sensitive to touch (mechanoreceptors). They are mostly found in thick skin, on the palms of hands and soles of feet. They are difficult to tell apart from Melanocytes.

Encapsulated Nerve Endings in the Dermis

An example of a Meissner's corpuscle.

Paccinian corpuscles

These look like 'onion' bulbs, and are commonly found in the dermis and subcutaneous tissue. The afferent nerve ending at the centre is enveloped by multiple concentric layers of flattened cells and an external capsule of connective tissue. These are pressure sensitive.

Meissners corpuscles

These are highly sensitive mechanoreceptors for touch found on the palmar surface of fingers and plantar service of feet (highly tactile).

There are also Ruffini corpuscles and Krause end bulbs in the dermis, further types of mechanoreceptors