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You are watching: Squamous cell carcinoma arises from cells of the stratum spinosum

StatPearls . Endowment Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.



Skin is the biggest organ in the human body and covers the body"s whole external surface. It is made up of three layers, the epidermis, dermis, and also the hypodermis, all 3 of which vary considerably in their anatomy and also function. The skin"s framework is consisted of of an elaborate network i m sorry serves as the body’s early stage barrier against pathogens, UV light, and also chemicals, and mechanical injury. It additionally regulates temperature and the quantity of water released right into the environment. This write-up discusses the appropriate anatomical structures of the skin’s epidermal layer, the structure, function, embryology, vascular supply, innervation, surgical considerations, and clinical relevance.

Skin Thickness

The thickness of each layer the the skin varies depending upon body region and categorized based on the thickness the the epidermal and dermal layers. Hairless skin uncovered in the palms that the hands and also soles that the feet is thickest due to the fact that the epidermis consists of an extra layer, the stratum lucidum. The upper earlier is taken into consideration thickest based upon the thickness of the dermis, yet it is taken into consideration “thin skin” histologically since the epidermal thickness lacks the stratum lucidum layer and also is thinner than hairless skin.

Layers that Epidermis

The layers of the epidermis include the stratum basale (the deepest part of the epidermis), stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidum, and also stratum corneum (the most superficial section of the epidermis).

Stratum basale, also known as stratum germinativum, is the deepest layer, separated from the dermis by the basement membrane (basal lamina) and also attached to the basement membrane by hemidesmosomes. The cells found in this layer space cuboidal to columnar mitotically energetic stem cells that room constantly developing keratinocytes. This layer likewise contains melanocytes.

Stratum spinosum, 8-10 cabinet layers, also well-known as the prickle cell layer contains irregular, polyhedral cells with cytoplasmic processes, sometimes called “spines”, that expand outward and contact neighboring cells through desmosomes. Dendritic cells have the right to be discovered in this layer.

Stratum granulosum, 3-5 cabinet layers, contains diamond shame cells v keratohyalin granules and lamellar granules. Keratohyalin granules contain keratin precursors that eventually aggregate, crosslink, and kind bundles. The lamellar granules save on computer the glycolipids that obtain secreted to the surface ar of the cells and function as a glue, maintaining the cell stuck together.

Stratum lucidum, 2-3 cabinet layers, present in more thickness skin uncovered in the palms and also soles, is a thin clear class consisting of eleidin i m sorry is a revolution product the keratohyalin.

Stratum corneum, 20-30 cabinet layers, is the uppermost layer, comprised of keratin and horny scales comprised of dead keratinocytes, recognized as anucleate squamous cells. This is the layer i beg your pardon varies many in thickness, especially in callused skin. In ~ this layer, the dead keratinocytes secrete defensins i beg your pardon are part of our very first immune defense.

Cells the the Epidermis


Keratinocytes room the predominant cell type of epidermis and also originate in the basal layer, produce keratin, and also are responsible because that the formation of the epidermal water barrier by making and also secreting lipids. Keratinocytes additionally regulate calcium absorption by the activation that cholesterol precursors by UVB irradiate to form vitamin D.


Melanocytes are obtained from neural stakes cells and also primarily produce melanin, which is responsible because that the colors of the skin. They are found between cells that stratum basale and also produce melanin. UVB light stimulates melanin cheap which is protective against UV radiation, acting as a integrated sunscreen. Melanin is created during the conversion of tyrosine come DOPA by the enzyme tyrosinase. Melanin then travels from cabinet to cell by a process that depends on the lengthy processes extending from the melanocytes come the bordering epidermal cells. Melanin granules from melanocytes are transferred via the lengthy processes to the cytoplasm that basal keratinocyte. Melanin moved to neighboring keratinocytes through “pigment donation”; entails phagocytosis of advice of melanocyte procedures by keratinocytes.

Langerhans’ Cells

Langerhans cells, dendritic cells, room the skins very first line defenders and also play a far-ranging role in antigen presentation. These cells require special stains come visualize, primarily uncovered in the stratum spinosum. These cells space the mesenchymal origin, derived from CD34 confident stem cells of bone marrow and also are component of the mononuclear phagocytic system. Lock contain Birbeck granules, tennis racket shaped cytoplasmic organelles. This cells to express both MHC I and MHC II molecules, uptake antigens in skin and transport to the lymph node.

Merkel Cells

Merkel cells space oval-shaped modified epidermal cells found in stratum basale, directly above the basement membrane. This cells offer a sensory role as mechanoreceptors because that light touch, and are most populous in fingertips, though also found in the palms, soles, oral, and genital mucosa. They are bound to adjoining keratinocytes by desmosomes and contain intermediate keratin filaments and their membranes communicate with free nerve end in the skin.


The dermis is connected to the epidermis in ~ the level the the basement membrane and consists of two layers, that connective tissue, the papillary and reticular layers i m sorry merge together without clear demarcation. The papillary layer is the top layer, thinner, written of loose connective tissue and contacts epidermis. The reticular layer is the deeper layer, thicker, less cellular, and also consists of thick connective tissue/ bundles of collagen fibers. The dermis houses the sweat glands, hair, hair follicles, muscles, sensory neurons, and also blood vessels.


The hypodermis is deep to the dermis and also is additionally called subcutaneous fascia. The is the deepest layer of skin and contains adipose lobules along with some skin appendages choose the hair follicles, sensory neurons, and blood vessels.

Structure and Function

The skin has countless functions. It serves together a barrier to water, invasion by microorganisms, mechanical and chemical trauma, and damage indigenous UV light. The epidermal water obstacle established through the cell envelop, a layer the insoluble proteins on the inner surface ar of the plasma membrane. That is formed by cross-linking of small proline-rich proteins and also larger proteins like cystatin, desmoplakin, filaggrin and also contributes to strong mechanics of barrier. And also the lipid envelope, a lipid/hydrophobic great attached to the outer surface the the plasma membrane. Together keratinocytes in stratum spinosum create keratohyalin granules, they likewise produce lamellar body (containing a mixture that glycosphingolipids, phospholipids, and also ceramides) assembled within Golgi.  Lamellar bodies’ materials are then secreted by exocytosis into extracellular spaces in between the stratum granulosum and corneum. Skin is the first site that immunological defense by the action of the Langerhans cells in the epidermis which room dendritic epidermal T lymphocytes and part of the adaptive immune system. The skin conservation the body homeostasis by regulation temperature and also water loss, while additionally serving both endocrine and also exocrine functions. The endocrine functions include the manufacturing of vitamin D in the keratinocytes which are responsible for converting 7-dehydrocholesterol in the epidermis to vitamin D, with the assistance of UV irradiate from the sun. The keratinocytes to express the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and also contain the enzymes required to transform vitamin D come its active kind of 1, 25 dihydroxy vitamin D. The definition of the VDR is that stimulation of the plays a function in the proliferation of the stratum basale and differentiation the keratinocytes together they move upwards in the epidermis. The exocrine features of the skin are by method of the sweat and sebaceous glands. One more important role of the skin is a sensation to touch, heat, cold, and pain through the actions of the nociceptors. The general appearance, turgor, and also other qualities likewise give insight into the basic health that the body. <7><8><9><10> 


The epidermis is acquired from ectodermal tissue. The dermis and also hypodermis are derived from mesodermal organization from somites. The mesoderm is likewise responsible because that the development of Langerhans cells. Neural stakes cells, responsible for dedicated sensory nerve endings and melanocyte development migrate right into the epidermis during epidermal development. <11><12>

Blood Supply and Lymphatics

Blood vessels and also lymphatic ship are uncovered in the dermal layer of the skin. Blood it is provided to the skin is an plan of two plexuses, the first lies in between the papillary and also reticular great of the dermis and the second lie between the dermis and also subcutaneous tissues. Supply to the epidermis is by means of the superficial arteriovenous plexus (subepidermal/papillary plexus). These vessels are vital for temperature regulation. The mechanism through which the body regulates temperature with the skin is very effective and also works by enhanced blood flow to the skin, transferring warm from the body to the environment. The alters in blood circulation are managed by the autonomic concerned system, forgiveness stimulation bring about vasoconstriction (heat retention) and also while vasodilation outcomes in warmth loss. Vasodilation the the blood ship is the response to boosted body temperature and is the an outcome of inhibition of the sympathetic centers in the posterior hypothalamus whereas decreased body temperature will cause vasoconstriction the skin blood vessels. <13> <14>


Nerves the the skin incorporate both somatic and autonomic nerves. The somatic sensory system is responsible because that pain (nociceptors), temperature, irradiate touch, discriminative touch, vibration, pressure, and also proprioception medicated mostly by committed cutaneous receptors/end organs consisting of Merkel disks, Pacinian corpuscles, Meissner’s corpuscles, and also Ruffini corpuscles. The autonomic innervation is responsible for the regulate of the tone of the vasculature, pilomotor stimulation in ~ the hair root, and also sweating. The free nerve endings extend into the epidermis and also sense pain, heat, and cold. They room most plenty of in the stratum granulosum layer and surround many hair follicles. Merkel disks sense light touch and also reach the stratum basale layer. The various other nerve end are found in the deeper parts of the skin and include the Pacinian corpuscle i beg your pardon senses deep pressure, Meissner’s corpuscle i beg your pardon senses low-frequency stimulation in ~ the level of the dermal papillae, and Ruffini corpuscles which feeling pressure. <15><16><17>


The arrector chili muscles space bundles of smooth muscle yarn that affix to the connective tissue sheath of hair follicles. As soon as the muscles contract, they traction the hair follicle outward bring about the hair erecting increase but also compresses the sebaceous glands, leading to the secretion of your contents. Hair walk not departure perpendicularly, yet instead in ~ an angle. This erection of hair likewise produces goosebumps, the bumpy appearance of the skin. <18>

Physiologic Variants

Skin is repeatedly shedding and desquamating and also varies slightly depending upon the human body region. There are more layers of cell in more thickness hairless skin with secondary layer, recognized as the stratum lucidum. Overall, the process of cell division, desquamation, and shedding go as follows:

Cell department occurs in stratum basale/germinativum. One cell remains, one more cell is moved toward the surface. Basal cells begin synthesis of tonofilaments (composed of keratin) which room grouped into bundles (tonofibrils).
Cells space pushed right into stratum spinosum. In the upper component of the spinous layer, cells begin to create keratohyalin granules having actually intermediate-associated proteins, filaggrin, and trichohyalin; helps accumulation keratin filaments and conversion that granular cell to cornified cells, i.e. Keratinization. Cells additionally produce lamellar bodies.
Cells space pushed right into stratum granulosum and become flattened and diamond shaped. The cells accumulate keratohyalin granules mixed in between tonofibrils.
Cells continue to stratum corneum whereby they flatten and also lose organelles and also nuclei.  The keratohyalin granules turn tonofibrils right into a homogenous keratin matrix.

Surgical Considerations

Langer’s Lines, also known as cleavage lines, space topological lines supplied to specify the stress and anxiety of the skin, corresponding to the alignment of collagen and also elastic fibers in the reticular dermis. Operation incisions made follow me these lines, much less scarring will occur. <21>

Clinical Significance

There are numerous clinically far-reaching aspects of the skin, consisting of the dermatomes that the skin, skin segments divided based upon the afferent nerves they space supplied whereby are numbered according to the level that spinal vertebral indigenous which lock arise. There are seven cervical, twelve thoracic, five lumbar, and five sacral. Specific diseases like shingles, led to by varicella-zoster infection, have actually pain sensation and eruptive rashes the involve a dermatomal distribution. Dermatomes are useful in the diagnosis that vertebral spinal injury levels. Aside from the dermatomes, the cells of the epidermis room susceptible come neoplastic transforms resulting in assorted cancer types. Part autoimmune and immunological diseases target the desmosomes and hemidesmosomes founds in the epidermis. Specific infections can additionally disrupt the truth of the epidermis in addition to drug reaction that existing variably as well.

Squamous cabinet carcinoma is cancer that arises from mutated keratinocytes, usually as result of UV damages in people with type I or II skin types (light skin, blue or eco-friendly eyes, red or blonde hair, burn and never tan) and also often appear as scaly, flaky, special red patches that might bleed or even show up wart-like. This form of skin cancer have the right to metastasize. Squamous cabinet carcinoma may arise indigenous actinic keratosis, i m sorry is additionally caused by sun damages to the epidermal class of skin and may have cutaneous horns. Basal cell carcinoma is a cancer of the basal layers of the epidermis and also is much much less likely come metastasize. This form of skin cancer is an ext common in sun-exposed areas and often appear are pearly papules ~ above the face, through telangiectasias and also ulcerate easily. Melanomas room cancers of the melanocytes and have a high metastatic potential, considerably mediated through the depth that the lesion. Melanomas have the right to be found anywhere top top the body, space usually irregularly pigmented yet can it is in amelanotic. Langerhans cabinet Histiocytosis is a form of cancer whereby Langerhans cell accumulate in the human body and an outcome in the formation of granulomas, often in the bones, bring about bone pain. These granulomas can additionally appear in the skin choose rashes, erythematous papules or blisters. An exciting association v this condition is the effect of the pituitary gland, which deserve to be influenced and people may current with diabetes insipidus, infertility, or other endocrine conditions due to inadequate hormones. Various other serious and deadly complications are because of pancytopenia (anemia, thrombocytopenia, leukocytopenia) as a direct solution to overcrowding through the Langerhans cells. Merkel cabinet carcinoma is an unusual cancer that the Merkel cells and is categorized together neuroendocrine tiny cell carcinoma

Pemphigus vulgaris is an autoimmune an illness that targets the intercellular proteins, desmosomes, that affix the keratinocytes to every other. Blisters kind within the epidermis and are easily ruptured, resulting in acantholysis histologically. This disease is associated with a confident nikolsky sign, peeling away from the epidermis v rubbing of the area. Bullous Pemphigoid is another blistering disease that outcomes in tense subepidermal blisters in enlarge populations, that are because of antibodies that target the hemidesmosomes that connect the epidermis at the level the the basement membrane to the extracellular procession of the dermis. This condition is not acantholytic and also is not linked with a optimistic nikolsky sign.

Infections that impact the truth of the skin include scalded skin syndrome caused by the exfoliative toxin released by staphylococcal aureus bacteria infection. This infection outcomes in peeling far of the skin, positive nikolsky, an illustration of a serious burn (very red), and also fever. Drug reaction like dress syndrome, erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnsons syndrome, and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis syndrome room often connected with specific medications that incorporate sulfa-containing drugs, NSAIDs, and also anti-seizure medications. <22><23><24><25><26><27><28><29>

Other Issues

The epidermal layer of skin contains much that our normal flora and the microbiome the the epidermis varies based upon the body region. The microorganisms the inhabit our skin surface is nonpathogenic and can be commensal or mutualistic in nature. The bacteria that often tend to predominate space staphylococci epidermidis, aureus, cutibacterium acnes, Corynebacterium, Streptococcus, candida and clostridium perfringens. As soon as the safety skin barrier is altered, one infection have the right to occur.  <30>




Histology, Trichodysplasia spinulosa, Trichodysplasia spinulosa polyomavirus, Healthy manage on top, TS skin top top the bottom, Skin over view, Epidermis, Hair follicle, Acanthosis, Eosinophilic protein granules, trichohyalin, that Stain. Added by Kazem (more...)

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