Proliferative Merkel cells were not detected in human skin

Ingrid Moll, Wolfgang Zieger, Monika Schmelz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The fetal development of Merkel cells - neuroendocrine cells of the skin - has been a matter of debate for a long time. Recent results have helped to confirm their intraepidermal development in humans. Simple epithelial cytokeratins (CK) nos. 8, 18, 19 and 20 are well established markers at the light microscopic level. These cells could be detected from fetal week 8 within the epidermis with an enormous increase during the following weeks. This gives rise to the question as to whether Merkel cells are undergoing mitoses or whether they are derived from basal keratinocytes. We studied fetal and adult skin using antibodies to simple epithelial CK and to Ki67, a human nuclear cell proliferation-associated antigen in an attempt to answer these questions. In human adult and fetal skin of various stages we could not detect any Merkel cells undergoing cell division. These results suggest that Merkel cells are postmitotic cells to be renewed from undifferentiated keratinocytes with stem cell characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-187
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Dermatological Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996


  • Cell proliferation
  • Cytokeratins
  • Merkel cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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