The innervation of human epidermis

William R. Kennedy, Gwen Wendelschafer-Crabb

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241 Scopus citations


Using immunohistochemical procedures numerous nerve fibers have been found in all cell layers of human epidermis. These nerves originate from nerve trunks in the dermis, enter the epidermis, then divide distally to eventually end in small enlargements, near the surface of the skin and in deeper areas. Some endings may be external to stratum granulosum cells. Epidermal nerves appear to have a three-dimensional territorial distribution in relationship to the skin's surface. The presence of epidermal nerve fibers was confirmed by electron microscope studies. The nerves are presumed to be sensory in nature. The existence of epidermal nerve fibers will necessitate changes in present theory of structure and function of peripheral sensation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-190
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1993

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements The research was supported in part by a grant from the American Diabetes Association, MN affiliate. This work was supported by NIH grants NS26348 and NS31397 and National Resources Center grant M01-RR00400. The authors are grateful to Drs. Steven Smith, David Sutherland and John Najarian for specimens of skin, and to Frida Maiers, Maria Luisa Bravo and Janet Parkin for preparation of many of the histological sections. We received invaluable assistance from Dr. Todd Brelje in the use of the confocal microscope (Cell Biology and Neuroanatomy Department).


  • Epidermis
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Nerve
  • Protein gene product (PGP) 9.5
  • Sensory receptor


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