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Keywords:

  • cortex cell types;
  • intermediate filament arrangements;
  • TEM;
  • deer down;
  • underhairs;
  • guard hairs

Abstract

We provide a detailed description of the ultrastructure of deer hair fibers. Guard hairs and underhairs from the winter coat of red deer (Cervus elaphus), and antler velvet hairs from the same species were examined. All fibers displayed the typical keratin fiber morphology of overlapping cuticle cells surrounding a core of cortex cells, and often a centrally-located medulla, but there were considerable differences in the diameter, cuticle thickness, and scale pattern, and in the relative amounts of cortex and medulla along individual fibers, and between the different types of fiber. In addition, closer examination of cortex cells using transmission electron microscopy revealed considerable differences in the arrangement of intermediate filaments in the different fiber types. Fine underhairs appeared similar to fine wool fibers from sheep because intermediate filament arrangements were very similar to those found in wool orthocortex cells and paracortex cells. In addition, a similar bilateral distribution of these cell types was evident. However, in the antler velvet hairs and the guard hairs, intermediate filament arrangements were more variable and complex, and showed similarities to those in heterotype cortex cells described for human hair. J. Morphol., 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.