merkel.gif (49110 bytes)Merkel cells and Tactile discs

Merkel cells are specialized epithelial cells that will respond to very light touch.  Notice how superficial they are - the deeper levels of the epidermis.  Even a mosquito landing on your arm is enough to stimulate these receptors.  They respond vigorously when first stimulated - a continued presence will eventually (rather quickly) be ignored.   So, if you don't swat the mosquito when it first lands, you are not likely to be aware of it!  The tactile discs are the nerve endings attached to the basal surface of the Merkel cells, and carry the nerve impulse to the brain.


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