The intraepidermal innervation of the snout skin of the opossum has been studied with the light and electron microscope. Numerous large nerve fibers loose their myelin sheath in the superficial dermis and pass into the epidermis. The basement membranes of the epidermis and Schwann cell become continuous at the point of entry of the neurite into the epidermis. Within the epidermis, the neurite is associated with a specialized secretory epidermal cell, termed a Merkel cell. This cell has many secretory granules apposed to the neurite. The Merkel cells are epidermal cells since they have desmosomes between them and adjacent epidermal cells. The neurite in the stratum spinosum is enveloped by Schwann cells in a manner analogous to the Schwann cell investment of unmyelinated neurites. In the upper stratum spinosum the nerve fiber evidences changes which can be interpreted as degenerative. The Merkel cell-neurite complex is interpreted as representing a sensory receptor unit.

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