Archives of Dermatological Research

, Volume 282, Issue 5, pp 304–310

Desmosomes, corneosomes and desquamation. An ultrastructural study of adult pig epidermis

  • S. J. Chapman
  • A. Walsh
Original Contributions

DOI: 10.1007/BF00375724

Cite this article as:
Chapman, S.J. & Walsh, A. Arch Dermatol Res (1990) 282: 304. doi:10.1007/BF00375724


We recently developed a pig skin model to determine the role of corneosomes (modified desmosomes in the stratum corneum) and extracellular lipids in desquamation. The present study provides control morphometric data on the morphological changes in desmosomes and corneosomes leading to desquamation in adult pig epidermis in vivo. The extracellular space within desmosomes gradually widened from the basal to the granular layer, and decreased slightly in the stratum corneum. Mid-dense line broadening, and increased electron density of the distal light layers, coincided with membrane-coating granule extrusion in the outer granular layer. Corneocyte attachment correlated with corneosome distribution. Compactum packing was relatively tight and corneosomes were numerous. Cohesion was mainly peripheral in the disjunctum, and corneosomes were restricted to corneocyte edges. Adhesion had a tongue-and-groove appearance with corneosomes riveting corneocyte peripheries into a lipped groove on adjoining cells. Cells shed by peeling radially towards the lipped groove, and corneosomes decreased from lower to upper disjunctum. Corneosome breakdown commenced with an electron lucent band forming between the plug and lipid envelope. The plug was then unzipped from the lipid envelope and degraded. Corneosomes did not form squamosomes.

Key words

Stratum corneumDesmosomesCorneosomesDesquamation

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. J. Chapman
    • 1
  • A. Walsh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyRoyal Liverpool HospitalLiverpoolUK