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Keywords:

  • glabrous skin biopsy;
  • molecular architecture;
  • Meissner corpuscles;
  • myelinated nerve fibers;
  • peripheral neuropathy

Abstract

Although there has been extensive research on small, unmyelinated fibers in the skin, little research has investigated dermal myelinated fibers in comparison. Glabrous, nonhairy skin contains mechanoreceptors that afford a vantage point for observation of myelinated fibers that have previously been seen only with invasively obtained nerve biopsies. This review discusses current morphometric and molecular expression data of normative and pathogenic glabrous skin obtained by various processing and analysis methods for cutaneous myelinated fibers. Recent publications have shed light on the role of glabrous skin biopsy in identifying signs of peripheral neuropathy and as a potential biomarker of distal myelin and mechanoreceptor integrity. The clinical relevance of a better understanding of the role of dermal myelinated nerve terminations in peripheral neuropathy will be addressed in light of recent publications in the growing field of skin biopsy. Muscle Nerve, 2013