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Myelinated Nerve Fibers In Glabrous Digital Skin

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In the last decade, applying multiple immunolabeling with highly specific antibodies and confocal microscopy to skin biopsies, it has been possible to study extensively cutaneous innervation. This technique has proved to be reliable and even more sensitive than sural nerve biopsy to investigate mild dying back neuropathies with only a very distal involvement of nerve fibers. So far it has been used mainly on hairy skin to evaluate small fiber anomalies in congenital, acquired and idiopathic sensory neuropathies. Compared to hairy skin, glabrous skin has a peculiar characteristic: it is rich in mechanoreceptors and myelinated Aβ fibers. To study these structures we selected a group of healthy volunteers and recruited a group of patients affected by hereditary or acquired sensory neuropathies. Skin biopsy was performed using a three mm disposable punch in all subjects on fingertip. We stained the cutaneous samples with a panel of antibodies identifying different neural structures such as the axon, the myelin sheath, the Schwann cell, and the Meissner corpuscle capsula. Three-D digitized images were acquired using a confocal microscope. We studied Meissner and intrapapillar myelinated nerve fiber density and using a dedicated software we measured in normal and neuropathic subjects area and density of innervation of Meissner corpuscles and thickness, internodal and Ranvier node length of the sensory fibers approaching the mechanoreceptors.
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Document Type: Abstract

Affiliations: “Salvatore Maugeri” Foundation, Medical Centre of Telese T, BN, Italy

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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