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Migration of human melanocytes into keratinocyte monolayers in vitro

Published:February 06, 2012DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdermsci.2012.01.005
      The repigmentation of adult skin after wound healing, or loss of melanocytes (e.g. vitiligo), poses a particular and unique challenge to the invading population of melanocytes. The melanocytes, or their precursors, resident in adjacent skin or in nearby niches, must be activated to proliferate, and then negotiate their way through a tightly held epidermal barrier. The mechanisms whereby melanocytes negotiate their way through the epidermis to achieve this repigmentation have not been described in any detail and may occur trans-epidermally, and/or along the basement membrane and/or in the dermis. While there have been many studies on migratory cells during embryonic development and in particular physiological processes [
      • Aubin-Houzelstein G.
      • Bernex F.
      • Elbaz C.
      • Panthier J.J.
      Survival of patchwork melanoblasts is dependent upon their number in the hair follicle at the end of embryogenesis.
      ,
      • Harris M.L.
      • Hall R.
      • Erickson C.A.
      Directing pathfinding along the dorsolateral path – the role of EDNRB2 and EphB2 in overcoming inhibition.
      ], these situations differ from the adult skin epidermal environment. To migrate through the tight spaces between keratinocytes, either junctions must be broken and spaces thus created, or alternatively, quite extreme cellular contortions would need to occur to allow the cell to move through the narrow paracellular spaces. Further knowledge of these processes will certainly contribute towards elucidating the mechanisms of repigmentation in pigmentary disorders.

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