Humans have another way to feel touch: scientists have made a sensational discovery
The scientific community believed that it was impossible to feel touch through hair follicles for a long time. It was believed that only the nerve endings in the skin and around the hair follicles could transmit sensations.
However, scientists have recently made an important discovery: it turns out that hair follicle cells interact specifically with low-threshold mechanoreceptors (LTMRs) that can sense touch. The details were reported by Science Alert.
The research was conducted by scientists from Imperial College London in the UK. The process of RNA sequencing was used. During the study, it became clear that hair follicle cells called the outer root sheath (ORS) have a higher percentage of touch-sensitive receptors than equivalent cells in the skin.
When the cells were mechanically stimulated, the sensory nerves next to them were also activated, showing that the touch had been "registered."
Moreover, experiments have shown that the neurotransmitters serotonin and histamine are released by ORS cells through tiny sacs called vesicles as a way of transmitting a signal to surrounding cells.
Neuroengineer Parastoo Hashemi Imperial College London called the discovery "really impressive." Bioengineer Claire Higgins pointed out that the question of why hair follicle cells play such a role in the perception of light touch remains unanswered.
"Since the follicle contains many sensory nerve endings, we now want to determine whether the hair follicle activates certain types of sensory nerves by an unknown but unique mechanism," Claire said.
Scientists have discovered a more detailed biological interaction between ORS and LTMR cells that goes beyond a simple mechanical reaction.
Nerve cells that perceive touch are called mechanoreceptors. It is through them that we can feel everything from a light breeze to a firm pressure.
What's also worth noting in this study is that the experiments were repeated using skin cells, not hair follicle cells: in this case, histamine was released, but not so much serotonin.
Given that histamine plays an important role in several inflammatory skin diseases, including eczema, it is possible that further research into how hair follicles detect touch could also lead to improved treatment and preventive measures.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA spoke about theories of scientists that suggest what a person really feels at the moment of death.