A new model for the morphology of the arrector pili muscle in the follicular unit based on three-dimensional reconstruction

J Anat. 2006 May;208(5):643-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2006.00575.x.


In the classic model of the arrector pili (AP) muscle, each hair follicle is independently associated with a single AP muscle. Recently, new models have been proposed based on interpretations of serial histological cross-sectional images. The purpose of this study was to confirm the morphology of the AP muscle in relation to the follicular unit (FU) using quantitative three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction of serially sectioned images. Skin samples were obtained from the parietal region of the scalp, and processed using routine histological procedures. The serially sectioned slides were stained with Masson's trichrome. All the hairs and hair follicles of the FU exhibited some degree of slanting, with the single AP muscle slanted in the same direction. The distal portion of the AP muscle was divided into branches, as in a bronchial tree. There was branching in the single AP muscle present in the FU, and it was inserted into all the hair follicles of the FU either tightly or loosely. We suggest that the classic anatomy of the AP muscle must be modified with this new model, now confirmed by computer-based 3D reconstruction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Hair Follicle / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Microtomy
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Muscle, Smooth / anatomy & histology*
  • Scalp*