Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 9th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

About Skin - II Becoming Thick Skinned

Cell-division mechanism, the spindle, regulates the balance between cell loss and overgrowth

24 October 2019

Becoming Thick Skinned

Your skin takes quite a battering from pollution, the weather and wear and tear. Maintaining this tissue requires a balance between cell loss and cell division. Researchers investigate this fine balance in mice, focusing on the intracellular ‘machinery’ responsible for separating cells as they divide – the spindle. It’s already known that in progenitors – cells that can develop into a variety of mature cells – the orientation of the spindle affects whether cell division results in two new progenitors (symmetrical cell division) or one progenitor and one cell that matures, say into a skin cell (asymmetrical cell division). Using fluorescence microscopy, researchers found applying the chemical TPA to stimulate cell division caused skin to thicken (bottom) compared to untreated skin (top). Taking a closer look revealed that TPA increased asymmetric cell divisions, as did activating a cancer gene. Spindle orientation does therefore have an important role to play in how our skin responds to damage.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.