Polyvillous cells of the epidermis: transportive elements of lamprey skin


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Polyvillous cells are differentiated bipolar cells in the epidermis of Lampetra spp., which are not innervated and are interpreted as a type of ionocyte. They bear numerous apical microvilli, capped by mucus. In some examples the apex bulges at the surface of the epidermis, in others it is sunken into a crypt or may even appear to be internal to the cell. It is supposed that these variations correlate with the maturity of the individual cell. Cytological features aiding recognition of the polyvillous cells by electron microscopy are the presence of numerous membrane fragments in the secretion above the short irregular apical microvilli, coated apical invaginations or vesicles, mitochondria with well developed cristae and internal granules, and in many cases a plasma membrane which appears more electrondense than that of the neighbouring epithelial cells