Comparative anatomy of mouse and human nail units.

Document Type


Publication Date


JAX Source

Anat Rec (Hoboken) 2013 Mar; 296(3):521-32.




Recent studies of mice with hair defects have resulted in major contributions to the understanding of hair disorders. To use mouse models as a tool to study nail diseases, a basic understanding of the similarities and differences between the human and mouse nail unit is required. In this study we compare the human and mouse nail unit at the macroscopic and microscopic level and use immunohistochemistry to determine the keratin expression patterns in the mouse nail unit. Both species have a proximal nail fold, cuticle, nail matrix, nail bed, nail plate, and hyponychium. Distinguishing features are the shape of the nail and the presence of an extended hyponychium in the mouse. Expression patterns of most keratins are similar. These findings indicate that the mouse nail unit shares major characteristics with the human nail unit and overall represents a very similar structure, useful for the investigation of nail diseases and nail biology. Anat Rec, 296:521-532, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.