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Merkel cell

Noun 1. Oval receptor cells found in the skin of vertebrates that have synaptic contacts with somatosensory afferents. They are associated with the sense of light touch discrimination of shapes and textures. They can turn malignant and form the skin tumor known as Merkel cell carcinoma. ( 2. A cell that occurs in the basal part of the epidermis, is characterized by dense granules in its cytoplasm, is closely associated with the unmyelinated tip of a nerve fiber, and probably functions in tactile sensory perception. ( 3. A large, pale, specialized cell with lobulated nuclei and in close apposition with a single sensory nerve ending that chiefly receives touch, pressure, and texture information and relay the information to the brain. ( Syn: Merkel-Ranvier cells Name origin: Named after Merkel Friedrich Siegmund (1845–1919), German anatomist. A professor of anatomy, Merkel produced a multivolume work on human anatomy. He also introduced the use of xylene and celloidin into histological techniques and was the first to use in anatomical illustration the now-standard color scheme: red for the arteries, blue for the veins, and yellow for the nerves. In 1880 he described the composite nervous and epithelial structures that are known as Merkel’s disks or corpuscles. The epithelial cells associated with these structures are now commonly called Merkel cells....

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