noun, plural: dendrites
(1) Any of the threadlike extensions or projections of the cytoplasm of a neuron; dendron
(2) The branching projection from the cell body of a dendritic cell of the immune system or of a skin cell
A dendrite refers to the branching projections or threadlike extensions from a cell, especially a neuron. A neuron is a cell of the nervous system characterized by having specialized cell parts, e.g. soma, dendrites, and axons. The soma is the cell body of the neuron. The dendrites and the axons are cellular processes of a neuron. An axon though is longer than a dendrite, and its function is to carry efferent (outgoing) action potentials from the cell body towards target cells. The dendrites of a neuron are threadlike in appearance and due to branching they resemble a tree. Their function is mainly to receive nerve impulse from other neuron via a synapse, and then propagate the electrochemical stimulation to the cell body. They are the ones responsible for the integration of synaptic inputs.
Non-neuronal dendrites are those found in dendritic cells and certain skin cells (e.g. melanocytes and Merkel cells). Similar to neuronal dendrites, the non-neuronal dendrites are branching projections of the cell’s cytoplasm.
Word origin: Greek dendrítēs (“of or pertaining to a tree”)