Nothing but skin and bone

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Abstract

Skin and bone — what comes to mind at hearing this phrase? While certainly a metaphor for disease, it also defines two very different tissues, one a flexible and contiguous outer covering, the other a morphologically diverse hard tissue distributed at over 200 sites in the body. As the accompanying series of Reviews highlights, these tissues are indeed diverse, but there are also surprising similarities. Skin is the interface between the internal organs and the environment, and as such plays a crucial role in the body's defense mechanism. The skin and its many appendages are responsible for functions as diverse as epidermal barrier and defense, immune surveillance, UV protection, thermoregulation, sweating, lubrication, pigmentation, the sensations of pain and touch, and, importantly, the protection of various stem cell niches in the skin. Bone serves a number of purposes: it provides protection for vital organs, a lever for locomotion, a reservoir for calcium, and the site of adult hematopoiesis. The tissue is composed of osteoblasts, osteoclasts, and their individual precursors plus a complex mixture of mesenchymal, myeloid, and lymphoid cells in the marrow space. Finally, the endothelial microenvironment provides nutrition and is a conduit for the influx and emigration of cells that impact bone biology in several important ways. This Review series guides the reader through these various facets of 2 diverse, yet interdependent, tissues.

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