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July 22, 1992

Physiology, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology of the Skin

Author Affiliations

Medical College of Ohio Toledo

JAMA. 1992;268(4):545. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490040129042

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


To open this book is to enter a vast cathedral of knowledge about the skin around us. As you walk in, you will see no stained glass, but rather the subdued light from scores of interesting black-and-white illustration windows. Just inside the vestibule is the baptismal font for newborn skin, with insight into the developing structure and ultrastructure of the epidermis and dermis. Behold these wonders of the epidermis: the keratinocyte, which lives to die for your protection; the melanocyte, your shield from the sun; the Langerhans cell, your outermost immune guard; and the Merkel cell, your touch button. You also see the dermis, with collagen and elastic fibers embedded in a glycosaminoproteoglycan gel, and a mesh of blood vessels, lymphatic channels, and nerves. If you peer down into the holes in the epidermis, you will see the wonders of hair, sweat, and oil formation.

As the great doors swing