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Osaka University and Mandom came up with a three-dimensional structure for sweat glands-It has been published in a world-renowned anatomy textbook


Images showing the three-dimensional structure of human sweat glands, which were among the research results announced in June 2017 by a research group that includes Guest Professor Fumihiro Okada of the Laboratory of Advanced Cosmetic Science (Mandom) Joint Research Program, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Osaka University, have been included in the 42nd edition of Gray’s Anatomy, the world-renowned anatomy textbook. The images are expected to enhance the understanding of, and advance research on, human sweat glands, which is needed to treat sweating disorders.

(Credit: Mandom)

The images were included in the “Skin” section in Chapter One of the 42nd edition, which was published in October 2020. They were included at the request of Elsevier B.V., which publishes the book. It published images that make it possible to visualize the vascular structure that is the supply source of sweat when sweating occurs, and the structure and shape of the cells that make up sweat glands. These images came to light as a result of the research group’s analysis of the glands’ three-dimensional structure.

The research group embarked on its research with the goal of clarifying the mechanism behind sweating disorders such as heatstroke, incidences of which are increasing every summer against the backdrop of the advance of global warming, and of developing methods for diagnosing and treating these disorders. To improve sweat function that has been disrupted, it is first necessary to understand the structure of the sweat glands that initiate contraction when sweating occurs. On the other hand, sweat glands have a complex structure in which the secretory portion at the end of the sweat glands and part of the duct portion are folded into a coil shape, as if entwined. This has made it difficult to analyze their structure using conventional methods.

In light of that, in 2017 the research group attempted to utilize whole-mount immunostaining to secure a picture of the three-dimensional structure of sweat glands. The group succeeded in making a detailed observation of the differences in the three-dimensional structures of the glands’ secretory portion and duct portion, respectively, and the blood vessels and other components that surround the glands. The group observed that while the duct portion is merely bent, the secretory portion is twisted like a wrung towel, and that this structure is in turn covered by myoepithelial cells. Furthermore, the blood vessels are arranged in very close proximity to the duct portion. The group discovered that the nerves for stimulating sweating only surround the myoepithelial cells.

Gray’s Anatomy ( is an anatomy textbook that was first published in 1858. Even now, 160 years later, it is the most authoritative anatomy textbook in the world and as such is read by students and researchers aspiring to pursue medicine and anatomy.

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This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd.( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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