Medical Dictionary

Merkel cell

noun Mer·kel cell
variants: also

Merkel's cell


Medical Definition of Merkel cell

  1. :  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

Biographical Note for merkel cell



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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