The Merkel cell--a member of the APUD cell system. Fluorescence and electron microscopic contribution to the neurotransmitter function of the Merkel cell granules

Arch Dermatol Res. 1979 Jun 25;265(2):115-22. doi: 10.1007/BF00407875.


Merkel cells of sinus hair follicles of nude mice were investigated by fluorescence and electron microscopy following pretreatment with amine precursors (L-Dopa, L-5-Hydroxytryptophan) and monoaminoxidase-inhibitors (Marsilid, Harmaline). Neither in control animals nor in pretreated animals any evidence for an involvement of Merkel cells in monoamine metabolism could be found. Therefore, the hypothesis that Merkel cells might share the most constant cytochemical characteristics of the cells of the APUD series, i.e., to take up amine precursors, should definitely be left. Following Harmaline treatment, however, Merkel cells were found fluorescent; cytophotometric analysis of the fluorescence emission spectra of formaldehyde-treated tissue ascertained that this fluorescence was due merely to a specific Harmaline fluorescence. The significance of Harmaline uptake in Merkel cells, most probably in the Merkel cell granules, is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan / metabolism
  • APUD Cells / cytology*
  • Animals
  • Fluorescence
  • Hair / cytology*
  • Hair / physiology
  • Hair / ultrastructure
  • Harmaline / pharmacology
  • Iproniazid / pharmacology
  • Levodopa / metabolism
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Levodopa
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan
  • Harmaline
  • Iproniazid