Supplementary Material for: The Morphology of the Rat Vibrissal Follicle-Sinus Complex Revealed by Three-Dimensional Computer-Aided Reconstruction

The vibrissal follicle-sinus complex (FSC) is a sensory receptor of the mammalian integumentary system that is located around the mouth. The purpose of the present study was to identify the actual 3-dimensional structure of the rat vibrissal FSC. Rat skin tissue was serially sectioned at a thickness of 10 µm and then stained with Masson’s trichrome. The serial sections were reconstructed 3-dimensionally using Reconstruct software. The rat vibrissal follicle is a spindle-shaped structure that is embedded within a blood sinus and enveloped within a thick collagenous capsule. The vibrissal FSC is innervated by the deep vibrissal and superficial vibrissal nerves. The deep vibrissal nerve, travelling in the basal-to-apical direction, penetrates the thick collagenous capsule of the vibrissal FSC. The sinus system can be divided into a superior portion, known as the ring sinus, and an inferior portion, known as the cavernous sinus. The ring sinus contains a C-shaped structure, the ringwulst, which is suspended from the mesenchymal sheath of the follicle. Collagenous trabeculae can be seen in the cavernous sinus but not in the ring sinus. The ring sinus encircles the follicle obliquely and asymmetrically. The ringwulst encircles the follicle incompletely, in a C-shaped fashion. This study has demonstrated the previously underappreciated 3-dimensional structure of the vibrissal FSC, which differs from previously reported descriptions, and provides data that will enhance the understanding of vibrissal function.