The Anatomical Distribution of Mechanoreceptors across the Hind Paw of Integrin a1-null and Wild Type Mice using Serial Histological Sectioning
Electrophysiological studies have mapped afferent responses to mechanical stimuli of the mouse hind paw skin, however the anatomical distribution of mechanoreceptors is unknown. The purpose of this thesis was to develop a protocol for serial histological sectioning of the intact mouse hind paw to quantify mechanoreceptors. Hind paw dissection, tissue preparation, chemical processing, sectioning and staining were successfully optimized. These methods were then applied to determine the anatomical distribution of mechanoreceptors across the hind paws of itga1-null and wild type mice. Meissner’s corpuscles were located exclusively in the glabrous footpad and tip of the digit skin while Merkel cells were found throughout the hind paw. Ruffini endings and Pacinian corpuscles were absent. The number of Merkel cells in itga1-null mice was four times less than controls, and itga1-null mice were less sensitive to static skin indentation suggesting an important role for integrin α1β1 in mechanosensation of the hind paw.