Strange connections similar to neurons found in human skin cells

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — For a long time, it was believed that nerve cells are connected in a unique, inimitable way. But now it turned out that the skin cells “communicate” with each other almost like neurons!

The signature of brain activity is a complex, but fairly well-studied process. We know that brain cells transmit information to each other through the release of special chemical compounds – neurotransmitters – which activate the branching “networks” of dendrites of neighboring cells.

However, scientists have discovered that this unique (as previously thought) pattern is not unique to nerve cells.

Scientists have found that a very similar process under certain circumstances is observed in the cells … of the skin. A team from Rockefeller University drew attention to this, studying the interaction between two different types of skin cells: melanocytes, which produce the ultraviolet absorbing pigment melanin; and keratinocytes, which make up the vast majority of the epidermis, protecting the body from environmental influences, partly through melanin.

According to biophysicist Sanford M. Simon, “keratinocytes wrap themselves around melanocytes, forming tight bonds that resemble neurons.” And in fact, visual similarity is definitely present. It turned out that chemical signals from keratinocytes trigger signals called transients of calcium in the dendrites of melanocytes.

Scientists explain that the dendritic morphology of internal processes in itself is not so rare. However, usually they are always associated with neurons, while in our case, cells act independently of nerve tissue.

Apparently, between the skin cells there is a much more complex, deep communication system that the researchers were not aware of. How do you know if they will soon be able to find similar patterns in other tissues of our body?


This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for OBSERVATORY NEWS from different countries around the world – material edited and published by OBSERVATORY staff in our newsroom.

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