The merkel cell in the labial ridge epidermis of anuran tadpole. I. Fine structure, distribution and cytochemical studies



The labial ridge epidermis of the anuran tadpole, which is the formative site of horny teeth, was studied with the electron microscope. The triangular epidermis covering the apex of the labial ridge was composed of horny teeth cells arranged in a columnar shape, keratinocytes, secretory epidermal cells, two kinds of non-epidermal cells and Merkel cells. Individual non-epider-mal cells were identified as neutrophils and macrophages respectively.

In addition, the fine structure, distribution and cytochemistry of the Merkel cell were studied. The fine structure of Merkel cells in the labial ridge epidermis was not so different from those of other vertebrates reported previously by other workers, except for the presence of numerous glycogen particles. The presence of Merkel cells in the labial ridge epidermis was very frequent, and they were arranged in a line at a uniform level of the triangular epidermis. They were usually located in the third cell layer from the base of the epidermis.

PAS and azure A stains were used on semithin epoxy sections to reveal the Merkel cells, and both stained them intensely. On the other hand, though glutaraldehyde-silver techniques and permanganate fixation were used to detect monoamines in the Merkel cells ultracytochemically, a positive reaction was observed on the pigment granules.