Epidermal keratinocytes as the forefront of the sensory system

Mitsuhiro Denda, Masashi Nakatani, Kazuyuki Ikeyama, Moe Tsutsumi, Sumiko Denda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


Various sensors that respond to physical or chemical environmental factors have been identified in the peripheral nervous system. Some of them, which respond to mechanical stress, osmotic pressure, temperature and chemical stimuli (such as pH), are also expressed in epidermal keratinocytes. Neurotransmitters and their receptors, as well as receptors that regulate the neuroendocrine system of the skin, are also present in keratinocytes. Thus, broadly speaking, epidermal keratinocytes appear to be equipped with sensing systems similar to those of the peripheral and central nervous systems. It had long been considered that only nerve C-terminals in the epidermis play a role in skin surface perception. However, building on earlier work on skin receptors and new findings introduced here, we present in this review a novel hypothesis of skin sensory perception, i.e. first, keratinocytes recognize various environmental factors, and then the information is processed and conveyed to the nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-161
Number of pages5
JournalExperimental Dermatology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • Nervous system
  • Neurotransmitter
  • P2X
  • Skin perception
  • Transient receptor potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology


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