Melanocyte Melanocyte and melanin. Latin melanocytus MeSH Melanocytes Code TH H2.00.03.0.01016
Melanocytes i// are melanin-producing cells located in the bottom layer (the stratum basale) of the skin's epidermis, the middle layer of the eye (the uvea), the inner ear, meninges, bones, and heart. Melanin is a pigment that is responsible primarily for the color of skin.
Through a process called melanogenesis, these cells produce melanin, which is a pigment found in the skin, eyes, and hair. This melanogenesis leads to a long-lasting tan, which is in contrast to the tan that originates from oxidation of already-existing melanin.
There are both basal and activated levels of melanogenesis; in general, lighter-skinned people have low basal levels of melanogenesis. Exposure to UV-B radiation causes an increased melanogenesis as a response to DNA photodamage.
Since the action spectrum of sunburn and melanogenesis are virtually identical, it is assumed that they are induced by the same mechanism. The agreement of the action spectrum with the absorption spectrum of DNA points towards the formation of cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (direct DNA damage). The initialism for cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers is CPDs.
There are typically between 1000 and 2000 melanocytes per square millimeter of skin. Melanocytes comprise from 5% to 10% of the cells in the basal layer of epidermis. Although their size can vary, melanocytes are typically 7 micrometres in length.
The difference in skin color between lightly and darkly pigmented individuals is due not to the number (quantity) of melanocytes in their skin but to the melanocytes' level of activity (quantity and relative amounts of eumelanin and pheomelanin). This process is under hormonal control, including the MSH and ACTH peptides that are produced from the precursor proopiomelanocortin.
Numerous stimuli are able to alter melanogenesis, or the production of melanin by cultured melanocytes, although the method by which it works is not fully understood. Melanocortins have been discussed to have effect on appetite and sexual activity in mice. Vitamin D metabolites, retinoids, melanocyte-stimulating hormone, forskolin, cholera toxin, isobutylmethylxanthine, diacylglycerol analogues, and UV irradiation all trigger melanogenesis and, in turn, pigmentation. Also producing chronic diseases when UV Rays hit open sores. The production of melanin is also initiated by ACTH (an adrenocorticotropic hormone).
Once made, melanin is moved along arm-like structures called dendrites in a special container called a melanosome, which is shipped to the keratinocytes. Melanosomes are vesicles or packages of the chemical inside a plasma membrane. The melanin is in organelles called "melanosomes", which are organized as a cap protecting the nucleus of the keratinocyte.
When ultraviolet rays penetrate the skin and damage DNA, thymidine dinucleotide (pTpT) fragments from damaged DNA will trigger melanogenesis and cause the melanocyte to produce melanosomes, which are then transferred by dendrite to the top layer of keratinocytes.
- Chromatophore (the pigment cell type found in poikilotherm animals)
- Eye color
- Follicular melanocyte
- List of human hair color genes
- Melanocytic tumors of uncertain malignant potential
- Mole (skin marking)
- Nevus depigmentosus
- Tanning activator
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- ^ tanning tips
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- Melanocyte at eMedicine Dictionary
- Histology at BU 07903loa - "Eye: fovea, RPE"
- Histology at BU 08103loa - "Integument: pigmented skin"
Human cell types / list derived primarily from ectoderm Surface ectodermTrichocyte · Keratinocyte Neural crestglia: Schwann cell · Satellite glial cellDigestive system Neural tube
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