Melanocytes and melanin granules have been studied by electron microscopy in normal human and cat skin, and in hyperplastic human skin lesions. The melanocytes have always been found as free cells within the epidermis,i.e., on the epidermal side of the dermal membrane. Melanocytes frequently rest on the dermal membrane or bulge towards the dermis. In such cases the uninterrupted dermal membrane is uniformly thin and smooth in appearance, in contrast with the regions alongside Malpighian cells, where it appears appreciably thicker and seemingly anchored to the basal cell layer. Two types of melanin granules have been distinguished according to their location in the melanocytes and to morphological characteristics which may only express different stages in the maturation of the granules: (a) light melanin granules in which a structure resembling a fine network is apparent; (b) dense melanin granules which, in osmium-fixed preparations, appear as uniformly dense masses surrounded by a coarsely granular, intensely osmiophilic shell. Treatment of sections of osmium-fixed tissues with potassium permanganate has revealed within the dense granules the existence of an organized framework in the form of a regular, crystalline-like lattice. It is suggested that this basic structure is protein in nature and may include the enzymatic system capable of producing melanin. The existence is reported of fine filaments located in the cytoplasm of melanocytes and morphologically distinct from the tonofilaments found in Malpighian cells.

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