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Concept: Goose bumps


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.

Concepts: Protein, Extracellular matrix, Skin, Hair, Hair follicle, Sebaceous gland, Goose bumps


Autophagy plays a crucial role in health and disease, regulating central cellular processes such as adaptive stress responses, differentiation, tissue development, and homeostasis. However, the role of autophagy in human physiology is poorly understood, highlighting a need for a model human organ system to assess the efficacy and safety of strategies to therapeutically modulate autophagy. As a complete, cyclically remodelling (mini-)organ, the organ culture of human scalp hair follicles (HFs), which, after massive growth (anagen), spontaneously enter into an apoptosis-driven organ involution (catagen) process, may provide such a model. Here, we reveal that in anagen, hair matrix keratinocytes (MKs) of organ-cultured HFs exhibit an active autophagic flux, as documented by evaluation of endogenous lipidated Light Chain 3B (LC3B) and sequestosome 1 (SQSTM1/p62) proteins and the ultrastructural visualization of autophagosomes at all stages of the autophagy. This autophagic flux is altered during catagen, and genetic inhibition of autophagy promotes catagen development. Conversely, an anti-hair loss product markedly enhances intrafollicular autophagy, leading to anagen prolongation. Collectively, our data reveal a novel role of autophagy in human hair growth. Moreover, we show that organ-cultured scalp HFs are an excellent preclinical research model for exploring the role of autophagy in human tissue physiology and for evaluating the efficacy and tissue toxicity of candidate autophagy-modulatory agents in a living human (mini-)organ.

Concepts: Skin, Human anatomy, Hair, Hair follicle, Goose bumps


Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a central regulator of cell proliferation and survival. There is limited evidence that mTOR influences hair follicles (HFs), which undergo cycles of quiescence (telogen), growth (anagen) and regression (catagen). We sought to investigate whether mTOR, in particular mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), regulates the hair growth cycle by employing biochemical, immunohistochemical and functional approaches in vivo. Here, we demonstrate that quantitative analysis of mTORC1 kinase activity shows phase-dependent changes, and phosphorylated mTOR at S2448 (p-mTOR) was localized in certain sites of HFs in a phase-dependent manner. These results were indicative of mTOR’s role in hair growth initiation. Finally, in a pharmacological challenge in vivo using the specific mTORC1 inhibitor, rapamycin, hair cycle initiation was delayed, suggesting a functional relevance of mTORC1 in anagen entry. Based on our findings, we propose that mTORC1 may participate in hair cycle regulation, namely the timing of anagen initiation.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Skin, Hair, Hair follicle, Goose bumps


Hair follicles (HFs) undergo precisely regulated cycles of active regeneration consisting of (anagen), involution (catagen), and relative quiescence (telogen) phases. HF stem cells (HFSCs) play important roles in regenerative cycling. Elucidating mechanisms that governs HFSC behavior can help uncover the underlying principles of hair development, hair growth disorders and skin cancers. RNA-binding proteins of the Musashi (Msi) have been implicated in the biology of different stem cell types, yet they have not been studied in HFSCs. Here we utilized gain- and loss-of-function mouse models to demonstrate that forced MSI2 expression retards anagen entry and consequently, delays hair growth, while loss of Msi2 enhances hair regrowth. Further, our findings show that Msi2 maintains quiescent state of HFSCs in the process of telogen-to-anagen transition. At the molecular level, our unbiased transcriptome profiling shows that Msi2 represses Hh signaling activity and that Shh is its direct target in the HF. Taken together, our findings reveal the importance of Msi2 in suppressing hair regeneration and maintaining HFSC quiescence. Previously unreported Msi2-Shh-Gli1 pathway adds to the growing understanding of the complex network governing cyclic hair growth.

Concepts: Protein, Cell, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Skin, Hair, Hair follicle, Goose bumps


In our research, we explored the relationship between Keratin 26 and the regulation of fine hair, BMP signaling pathway, MT, FGF5, and IGF-I. The result of hybridization in situ revealed that Keratin 26 was specially expressed in cortex of skin hair follicles; the result of immunohistochemistry indicated that Keratin 26 was expressed in internal root sheath, external root sheath. Then, Real-time quantitative PCR results showed that relative expressive quantity of Keratin 26 was 1.08 or 3.3 × greater in secondary follicle than primary follicle during anagen or catagen; the difference during anagen was not remarkable (p>0.05), however, that of catagen was extremely significant (p<0.01). Relative expressive quantity of Keratin 26 increased during telogen; the difference was extremely significant (p<0.01). Moreover, after Noggin expression interference using RNAi technology, we found that relative expressive quantity of Keratin 26 extremely remarkably declined (p<0.01); after K26 overexpression, we found that relative expressive quantity of Noggin extremely remarkably increased (p<0.01). We detected expressive quantity change of Keratin 26 and Keratin 26 using Real-time quantitative PCR and immunofluorescence technologies after fibroblasts were treated with MT, FGF5 or IGF-I; the results indicated that MT and FGF5 played a positive role in Keratin 26 and Keratin 26 expression, IGF-I played a negative role in Keratin 26 expression, positive role in Keratin 26 expression. The results above showed that Keratin 26 could inhibit cashmere growth, and was related to entering to catagen and telogen of hair follicles; Keratin 26 and BMP signaling pathway were two antagonistic pathways each other which could inhibit growth and development of cashmere; MT, FGF5 and IGF-I could affect expression of Keratin 26 and Keratin 26, and Keratin 26 was one of the important pathways that MT induced cashmere production in advance, FGF5 regulated cashmere growth and IGF-I promoted cashmere growth and development.

Concepts: Gene, Gene expression, Polymerase chain reaction, Real-time polymerase chain reaction, Skin, Hair, Hair follicle, Goose bumps


Legrand et al show that JAK/STAT5 signaling in the dermal papilla is required for anagen onset in the murine hair cycle. Interestingly, others have shown that JAK-inhibition is able to induce telogen-to-anagen transition in wild-type mice. This apparent contradiction highlights the complexity of interactions within the hair follicle, and encourages further discussion on the role of JAK-STAT signaling in the various stem cell niches of the hair follicle.

Concepts: Gene, Emergence, Skin, Murinae, Hair, Hair follicle, The Various, Goose bumps


Although numerous hypotheses have been proposed to prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA), effective pharmaceuticals have yet to be developed. In our study, the back hairs of C57BL/6 mice were factitiously removed. These mice were then treated with cedrol or minoxidil daily. Mice with early-stage anagen VI hair follicles were treated with cyclophosphamide (CYP, 125mg/kg) to induce alopecia. The CYP-damaged hair follicles were observed and quantified by using a digital photomicrograph. The results demonstrated that the minoxidil-treated mice suffered from complete alopecia similar to the model 6days after CYP administration. Simultaneously, the cedrol-treated (200mg/kg) mice manifested mild alopecia with 40% suppression. Histological observation revealed that anagen hair follicles of the cedrol-pretreated mice (82.5%) likely provided from damage compared with the sparse and dystrophic hair follicles of the model mice (37.0%). Therefore, the use of topical cedrol can prevent hair follicle dystrophy and provide local protection against CIA.

Concepts: Scientific method, Chemotherapy, Observation, Hypothesis, Hair, Hair follicle, Goose bumps


Active Wnt/b-catenin signaling in the dermal papilla (DP) is required for postnatal hair cycling. In addition, maintenance of the hair-inducing ability of DP cells in vitro requires external addition of Wnt molecules. However, whether DP cells are a critical source of Wnt ligands and induce both autocrine and paracrine signaling cascades to promote adult hair follicle growth and regeneration remains elusive. To address this question, we generated an animal model that allows inducible ablation of Wntless (Wls), a transmembrane Wnt exporter protein, in CD133-positive (CD133+) DP cells. CD133+ cells have been shown to be a specific subpopulation of cells in the DP, which possesses the hair-inducing capability. Here we show that ablation of Wls expression in CD133+ DP cells results in a shortened period of postnatal hair growth. Mutant hair follicles were unable to enter full anagen (hair growth stage) and progressed toward a rapid regression. Notably, reduced size of the DP and decreased expression of anagen DP marker, versican, were observed in hair follicles when CD133+ DP cells lost Wls expression. Further analysis showed Wls-deficient CD133+ DP cells led to reduced proliferation and differentiation in matrix keratinocytes and melanocytes that are needed for the generation of the hair follicle structure and a pigmented hair shaft. These findings clearly demonstrate that Wnt ligands produced by CD133+ DP cells play an important role in postnatal hair growth by maintaining the inductivity of DP cells and mediating the signaling crosstalk between the mesenchyme and the epithelial compartment.

Concepts: Protein, Signal transduction, Skin, Epidermis, Hair, Hair follicle, Skin anatomy, Goose bumps


Psychological factors and stress can cause hair loss. The sympathetic-adrenal-medullary (SAM) axis has been reported to regulate the growth of hair follicles (HF). The sympathetic nerve is a component of the SAM axis, but it has not been sufficiently or convincingly linked to hair growth. In this study, we demonstrate that chemical sympathectomy via administration of the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) to mice inhibited HF growth, but treatment with the β-adrenoceptor antagonist propranolol (PR) had no effect. HF length and skin thickness were greater in PR-treated and control mice than in 6-OHDA-treated mice, as evidenced by hematoxylin and eosin staining. Furthermore, we found that the reduced HF growth in sympathectomized animals was accompanied by a decreased keratinocyte proliferation. Moreover, the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE) was found to efficiently promote HF growth in an organotypic skin culture model. Together, these findings suggest that sympathetic nerves regulate keratinocyte behaviors to promote hair growth, providing novel insights into stress-related, chemotherapy-, and radiotherapy-induced alopecia.

Concepts: Nervous system, Chemotherapy, Action potential, Acetylcholine, Epinephrine, Sympathetic nervous system, Norepinephrine, Goose bumps


Hair follicles are skin appendages that undergo periods of growth (anagen), regression (catagen) and rest (telogen), regulated by their mesenchymal component, the dermal papilla (DP). Based on reports of its specific expression in the DP, we investigated STAT5 activation during hair development and cycling. STAT5 activation in the DP began in late catagen, reaching a peak in early anagen before disappearing for the rest of the cycle. This was confirmed by the expression profile of SOCS2, a STAT5 target in the DP. This pattern of expression starts after the first postnatal hair cycle. Quantification of hair cycling using the Flash canonical Wnt signalling in vivo bioluminescence reporter found that conditional knockout of STAT5A/B in the DP targeted through Cre recombinase under the control of the Sox18 promoter, resulted in delayed anagen entry compared to control. Microarray analysis of STAT5-deletion versus control revealed key changes in TNF-alpha, Wnt and FGF ligands, known for their role in inducing anagen entry. We conclude that STAT5 activation acts as a mesenchymal switch to trigger natural anagen entry in post-developmental hair follicle cycling.

Concepts: Skin, Hair, Hair follicle, Sebaceous gland, Goose bumps