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The Melanocyte (cell)

  • Melanocytes are the pigment cells and are originally of nervous origin migrating from the neural crest, thus they are unable to divide.
  • They are located in the epidermis (Basal Layer) alongside with keratinocytes.
  • They produce melanin in organelles called melanosomes, which travel along long cell “arms” before being transferred to keratinocytes.
  • In many pigmentary disorders melnaocytes are still present however in some of them, melanocyte migration is incomplete, examples include Mongolain Blue Spot, Nevus of Ota and Ito, Waardenburg Syndrome.
  • Note: Skin color is NOT determined by the number of melanocytes, but the number and size of melanosomes and melanin.