Sensory nerve endings in rhesus monkey sinus hairs


  • Zdenek Halata,

    Corresponding author
    1. Anatomisches Institut der Universität Hamburg, Abteilung für Funktionelle Anatomie, Hamburg. Germany
    • Anatomisches Institut der Universität Hamburg, Abteilung für Funktionelle Anatomie, Martinstrasse 52, D-2000 Hamburg 20, West Germany
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  • Bryce L. Munger

    1. Department of Anatomy, The Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033
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The sensory innervation of primate sinus hairs has been studied by light and electron microscopy. For light microscopy paraffin sections as well as thick frozen sections were impregnated with silver and compared with serial semi-thin sections of tissue prepared for electron microscopy. One type of sensory terminal is present in the epidermis surrounding the hair follicle, and four specific nerve terminals have been identified within the blood sinus. An epidermal rete ridge collar encircles the hair shaft and contains ∽200 Merkel cellneurite complexes. Numerous other Merkel cell-neurite complexes are present in the external root sheath of the hair follicle beneath a thick glassy membrane innervated by ∽65 nerve fibers. At this level 10–15 lanceolate or palisade terminals are situated in the connective tissue. Up to 10 simple encapsulated corpuscles can be identified above the level of lanceolate endings and Merkel cell terminals. Ruffini corpuscles are closely applied to the glassy membrane below the lanceolate and Merkel terminals at the level where nerve fibers penetrate the capsule of the sinus. All of these terminals are supplied by 80–100 large diameter myelinated fibers distributed approximately as follows: 65 innervate Merkel cell-neurite complexes, 15 to lanceolate, 10 to simple corpuscles, and 10 to Ruffini corpuscles. The innervation of the rete ridge collar is independent of that of the sinus consisting of 10–12 fibers derived from the superficial dermal network. Each of these sensory terminals can be correlated with specific functional parameters as described in numerous neurophysiologic studies. Merkel cell-neurite complexes and Ruffini corpuscles are slowly adapting receptors; lanceolate terminals and simple corpuscles are rapidly adapting receptors.