New Research Shows How Stem Cells Create New Hair

Posted: Mar 4 2016, 10:40am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
New Research Shows How Stem Cells Create New Hair
Hair follicle stem cells lacking the protein FOXC1 can only retain one old bulge in their hair follicles, while normal stem cells can keep up to four. Credit: The Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development at Rockefeller University/PNAS
  • Novel Experiments show how Stem Cells create New Hair Filaments

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Some novel experiments have shown how stem cells go on to create new hair filaments when they are activated.

Mature stem cells normally are a treasure house for the body which can regenerate injured or depleted tissues with their help. Such organs of the body as the intestines and the semi-permeable membrane that is the skin have stem cells that are constantly undergoing division.

These organs are in need of frequent turnover. In case of their subdivisions, such as the hair follicles in the skin, such regeneration is not on a permanent basis but depends upon signals from the body’s control centers.

One can intuit that stem cells will be used with parsimony since they are available in limited quantities. They are in fact a precious resource. However, the scientists do not yet know the complete mechanism behind their quiescence.

It remains a mystery. The biological function of these strange entities within the human body is still a pretty much misunderstood process.

In a recent study, published in the journal PNAS, a graduate student reported that the signals that are responsible for the quiescence and regeneration of hair follicle stem cells had been detected.

When mice get older, the stored fat in their skin secretes greater levels of a signal called BMP. This signal is actually a stopping agent which causes the hair follicles to spend longer times in a quiescent state.

A stem cell gene that is activated by BMP signaling may be missing from the scene and then the hair follicles grow with shorter intervals. It was assumed that hair growth was the very secret of rejuvenation and regeneration.

The mice showed thinning and greying hair before their time though. The stem cells normally create a new bulge of hair beneath which the old stem cells and the old hair lie intact.

The new bulge alone is capable of creating new hair follicles. Meanwhile, the old bulges continue to accumulate till there may be four of them in place.

When mice had their FOXC1 gene knocked out, the hair growth went into overdrive. While normal mice grew hair on a regular basis, these special mice grew hair at a rate that was seven times faster.

The overactive state was such that the hair follicle remained a singular one instead of the follicles having multiple sites. It has been seen that under ordinary circumstances, the stem cells lose their vitality with the onset of old age.

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