In both the fetus and adult, the skin is the largest organ of the body. During fetal life, the skin undergoes a complex expansion to form a multilayered structure that can re-epithelialize after injury, prevent dehydration, and protect against infection. Not surprisingly, fetal and adult skin differ greatly both in structure and in epidermal and dermal protein component expression. Though not well understood, these unique expression profiles, especially in extracellular matrix molecules, impart fetal skin with the ability to rapidly re-epithelialize and restore normal skin architecture without scar formation. By late gestation, this scarless wound healing has ceased, and protein expression and the cellular composition of the skin layers have evolved into those recognized in adults. This chapter highlights the structural evolution and histological changes that occur in the skin during fetal life.
KeywordsEpidermal Dermis Hypodermis Ectoderm Mesoderm Periderm Hair Sebaceous glands Eccrine glands Apocrine glands Nails
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