The development of human digital Meissner's and Pacinian corpuscles
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Meissner's and Pacinian corpuscles are cutaneous mechanoreceptors responsible for different modalities of touch. The development of these sensory formations in humans is poorly known, especially regarding the acquisition of the typical immunohistochemical profile related to their full functional maturity. Here we used a panel of antibodies (to specifically label the main corpuscular components: axon, Schwann-related cells and endoneurial-perineurial-related cells) to investigate the development of digital Meissner's and Pacinian corpuscles in a representative sample covering from 11 weeks of estimated gestational age (wega) to adulthood. Development of Pacinian corpuscles starts at 13 wega, and it is completed at 4 months of life, although their basic structure and immunohistochemical characteristics are reached at 36 wega. During development, around the axon, a complex network of S100 positive Schwann-related processes is progressively compacted to form the inner core, while the surrounding mesenchyme is organized and forms the outer core and the capsule. Meissner's corpuscles start to develop at 22 wega and complete their typical morphology and immunohistochemical profile at 8 months of life. In developing Meissner's corpuscles, the axons establish complex relationships with the epidermis and are progressively covered by Schwann-like cells until they complete the mature arrangement late in postnatal life. The present results demonstrate an asynchronous development of the Meissner's and Pacini's corpuscles and show that there is not a total correlation between morphological and immunohistochemical maturation. The correlation of the present results with touch-induced cortical activity in developing humans is discussed. © 2018 Elsevier GmbH
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