Regional difference in epidermal thinning after skin denervation

Hou Yu Chiang*, Ia Tang Huang, Wen Pin Chen, Hsiung Fei Chien, Chia Tung Shun, Ynag Chyuan Chang, Sung Tsang Hsieh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

37 Scopus citations


Denervation of skin has a profound influence on epidermis; epidermal thinning was a consistent finding in rats. However, it is not clear whether the degree of epidermal thinning was similar in the region receiving the same innervation. In mice, how early epidermal nerves were degenerated after nerve injury remained unknown. To address these issues, we transected the sciatic nerve in mice and compared the changes of epidermal thickness in different areas of the hind foot skin. Epidermal nerves degenerated within 48 h after nerve transection, similar to what was observed in rats. Seven days after nerve transection, there was differential thinning of epidermis. The interpad area, in the center of the sciatic nerve-innervated region, exhibited the most profound degree of epidermal thinning (34.6 ± 3.1 vs 47.8 ± 2.4 μm, P < 0.01). The heel area, in the periphery of the sciatic nerve-innervated zone, did not show significant thinning of epidermis after denervation (37.3 ± 4.8 vs 41.5 ± 5.1 μm, P > 0.05). The degree of epidermal thinning after denervation in the pad area was the intermediate one: with 98.8 ± 4.8 vs 120.1 ± 7.3 μm, P < 0.02, in the fete pegs, and 51.1 ± 4.1 vs 62.1 ± 6.0 μm, P < 0.02, in the dermal papilla. The differential thinning was obvious when the thickness of the denervated epidermis was normalized to that of the control epidermis with the ratios of 0.73 ± 0.03 in the interpad area, 0.83 ± 0.04 in the rete peg, 0.85 ± 0.05 in the dermal papilla, and 0.92 ± 0.05 in the heel. Epidermal thinning was reversed by reinnervation of the epidermis after sciatic nerve crush (41.5 ± 1.5 vs 45.0 ± 2.0 μm in the interpad area, P > 0.05). These findings suggest that sensory nerves exhibit trophic influences on the epidermis presumably through the effects of diffusible factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-145
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Axonal degeneration
  • Epidermis
  • Keratinocyte
  • Nerve degeneration
  • Protein gene product 9.5
  • Skin innervation
  • Unmyelinated nerves


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