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The primary function of the skin is to act as a barrier. The skin provides protection from: mechanical impacts and pressure, variations in temperature, micro-organisms, radiation and chemicals. The skin regulates several aspects of physiology, including: body temperature via sweat and hair, and changes in peripheral circulation and fluid balance via sweat.
It also acts as a reservoir for the synthesis of Vitamin D. The skin contains an extensive network of nerve cells that detect and relay changes in the environment. Like the dermis, the layer contains blood vessels and nerves for much the same reasons. Importantly, the subcutis contains a layer of fat.
This layer of fat works alongside the blood vessels to maintain an appropriate body temperature. The layer of fat here acts as a cushion against physical trauma to internal organs, muscles, and bones.
Additionally, the body will turn to this fat in times of starvation to provide power to its various processes, especially brain function. Layers of cutaneous membranes skin : This image details features of the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin. The epidermis includes five main layers: the stratum corneum, stratum lucidium, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum, and stratum germinativum. The epidermis is the outermost layer of our skin. It is the layer we see with our eyes. It contains no blood supply of its own—which is why you can shave your skin and not cause any bleeding despite losing many cells in the process.
The epidermis is itself divided into at least four separate parts. A fifth part is present in some areas of our body.
In order from the deepest layer of the epidermis to the most superficial, these layers strata are the:. Skin overview : Skin layers, of both hairy and hairless skin. Human skin: This image details the parts of the integumentary system. The stratum basale, also called the stratum germinativum, is the basal base layer of the epidermis.
This layer is one of the most important layers of our skin.
This is because it contains the only cells of the epidermis that can divide via the process of mitosis, which means that skin cells germinate here, hence the word germinativum. In this layer, the most numerous cells of the epidermis, called keratinocytes, arise thanks to mitosis. Keratinocytes produce the most important protein of the epidermis.
This protein is appropriately called keratin. Keratin makes our skin tough and provides us with much-needed protection from microorganisms, physical harm, and chemical irritation. Millions of these new cells arise in the stratum basale on a daily basis. The newly produced cells push older cells into the upper layers of the epidermis with time.
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As these older cells move up toward the surface, they change their shape, nuclear, and chemical composition. These changes are, in part, what give the strata their unique characteristics. The stratum basale is primarily made up of basal keratinocyte cells, which can be considered the stem cells of the epidermis. They divide to form the keratinocytes of the stratum spinosum, which migrate superficially.
From the stratum basale, the keratinocytes move into the stratum spinosum, a layer so called because its cells are spiny-shaped cells. From there the keratinocytes move into the next layer, called the stratum granulosum. This layer gets its name from the fact that the cells located here contain many granules. The keratinocytes produce a lot of keratin in this layer—they become filled with keratin.
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This process is known as keratinization. The keratinocytes become flatter, more brittle, and lose their nuclei in the stratum granulosum as well. Once the keratinocytes leave the stratum granulosum, they die and help form the stratum lucidum. This death occurs largely as a result of the distance the keratinocytes find themselves from the rich blood supply the cells of the stratum basale lie on top off.
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Devoid of nutrients and oxygen, the keratinocytes die as they are pushed towards the surface of our skin. This layer is only easily found in certain hairless parts of our body, namely the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. Meaning, the places where our skin is usually the thickest. From the stratum lucidum, the keratinocytes enter the next layer, called the stratum corneum the horny layer filled with cornified cells.
This the only layer of skin we see with our eyes. The keratinocytes in this layer are called corneocytes. They are devoid of almost all of their water and they are completely devoid of a nucleus at this point.
They are dead skin cells filled with the tough protein keratin. In essence, they are a protein mass more so than they are a cell. The corneocytes serve as a hard protective layer against environmental trauma, such as abrasions, light, heat, chemicals, and microorganism. The cells of the stratum corneum are also surrounded by lipids fats that help repel water as well. Together with actin microfilaments and microtubules, keratin filaments make up the cytoskeletons of vertebrate epithelial cells. Traced as far back in the evolutionary kingdom as mollusks, keratins belong to the superfamily of intermediate filament IF proteins that form alpha-helical coiled-coil dimers which associate laterally and end-to-end to form nm diameter filaments.
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The evolutionary transition between organisms bearing an exoskeleton and those with an endoskeleton seemed to cause considerable change in keratin.
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