Immunohistochemical localization of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) in Merkel cells of various mammals: evidence for a neuromodulator function of the Merkel cell

J Invest Dermatol. 1983 Oct;81(4):361-4. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12519966.


Since met-enkephalin-like substance has been demonstrated only in Merkel cells of some rodents but not of cat, dog, pig, and humans, Merkel cells of these species were analyzed by immunohistochemistry using a variety of different antisera for the occurrence of neuropeptides different from met-enkephalin. In various locations of all species investigated Merkel cells were found to be immunoreactive exclusively to vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) but not to any of the other antisera used. Thus, in mammalian Merkel cells, neuropeptides occur that are different from met-enkephalin. It is suggested that the Merkel cell-axon complex represents a complex regulatory system involving a presumptive receptor or modulator function whereby the Merkel cell may influence the threshold of the sensory nerve ending via release of a neuropeptide (VIP- or met-enkephalin-like material).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Endings / physiology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / analysis
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Skin / cytology*
  • Skin / innervation
  • Species Specificity
  • Swine
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / analysis*
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide / immunology


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide