OPEN PloS one | 19 Feb 2013
N Morisaki, A Ohuchi and S Moriwaki
In most mammals, each hair follicle undergoes a cyclic process of growing, regressing and resting phases (anagen, catagen, telogen, respectively) called the hair cycle. Various biological factors have been reported to regulate or to synchronize with the hair cycle. Some factors involved in the extracellular matrix, which is a major component of skin tissue, are also thought to regulate the hair cycle. We have focused on an enzyme that degrades elastin, which is associated with skin elasticity. Since our previous study identified skin fibroblast elastase as neprilysin (NEP), we examined the fluctuation of NEP enzyme activity and its expression during the synchronized hair cycle of rats. NEP activity in the skin was elevated at early anagen, and decreased during catagen to telogen. The expression of NEP mRNA and protein levels was modulated similarly. Immunostaining showed changes in NEP localization throughout the hair cycle, from the follicular epithelium during early anagen to the dermal papilla during catagen. To determine whether NEP plays an important role in regulating the hair cycle, we used a specific inhibitor of NEP (NPLT). NPLT was applied topically daily to the dorsal skin of C3H mice, which had been depilated in advance. Mice treated with NPLT had significantly suppressed hair growth. These data suggest that NEP plays an important role in regulating the hair cycle by its increased expression and activity in the follicular epithelium during early anagen.
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