Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Potential for solution to baldness? Surprising clues about communication in hair stem cell populations

Date:
May 15, 2011
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
In one of the first studies to look at the population behavior of a large pool of stem cells in thousands of hair follicles -- as opposed to the stem cell of a single hair follicle -- scientists deciphered how hair stem cells in mice and rabbits can communicate with each other and encourage mutually coordinated regeneration.

In one of the first studies to look at the population behavior of a large pool of stem cells in thousands of hair follicles -- as opposed to the stem cell of a single hair follicle -- Keck School of Medicine of USC scientists deciphered how hair stem cells in mice and rabbits can communicate with each other and encourage mutually coordinated regeneration, according to an article published in the April 29 edition of the journal Science.

The team, which collaborated with mathematical biologists from the University of Oxford, analyzed over many months the changes in the hair growth patterns on shaved mice and rabbits, which indicate cyclic progression between active and quiescent states by stem cells in hair follicles.

"The results are totally surprising. There is complex coordination not apparent to the naked eye," said Cheng-Ming Chuong, professor of pathology at the Keck School and the principal investigator of the study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The "complex coordination" Chuong refers to is the ability of the large hair stem cell population to communicate with each other to reach robust hair growth, manifesting in a constantly shifting hair wave pattern that often looked like a piece of abstract artwork "painted" on the rabbit's skin.

The scientists found that hair stem cells coordinate their regeneration with each other with the aid of a pair of molecular activator WNT and inhibitor BMP. When WNT and BMP signals are used repetitively among a population of thousands of hair follicles across the entire skin surface, complex regenerative hair growth behavior emerges via the process of self-organization.

The research holds potential for finding a cure for alopecia, or hair loss, by improving the environment for communication. Alopecia occurs in humans partially because stem cells in human hair follicles, unlike those in mice and rabbits, have lost the ability to communicate with each other.

"When each human hair follicle wants to regenerate, it can only count on itself; it's not getting help from other follicles," Chuong said. "But when a rabbit hair follicle regenerates, it can count on two inputs: its own activation, and the activation signal from its neighbors. Rabbits have a very active hair growth, and that is essential for their survival in the wild."

If the mechanism of stem cell "communication" can be awakened in human stem cells, it will be possible to significantly increase the proportion of human hairs in a growing phase, said Maksim Plikus, the paper's lead author, now a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Pennsylvania. While conducting the study Plikus was with the Keck School and was supported by the postdoctoral training grant from California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

The study's results are promising enough that the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation has already applied for a patent on the composition and method to modulate hair growth.

The findings also provide insight into potential stem cell behavior in other organs, which holds ramifications for regenerative medicine research. The fact that a large population of a rabbit's hair stem cells can encourage each other to regenerate and to take turns resting implies it may be possible for other organs' stem cells -- including in humans -- to similarly communicate and spur growth with high efficiency.

"This work should stimulate the search for similar population-level behaviors among stem cells in other key regenerative systems, such as the gastro-intestinal tract and bone marrow," Plikus said.

The study builds upon an earlier paper that a team led by Plikus and Chuong published three years ago in the journal Nature. That study looked at the hair growth patterns on mice and found that the macro-environment, which includes subcutaneous adipose tissue and body hormone changes, could influence the regenerative behavior of individual hair follicles. It also found new functionally distinct, but morphologically indistinguishable phases in a hair follicle's growing and resting stages.

"Combined together, our 2008 Nature and 2011 Science papers push our understanding of the regenerative processes in an adult organ to a new level," Plikus said.

Chih-Chiang Chen, Damon de la Cruz and Randall Widelitz of the Keck School's department of pathology were also authors on the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. V. Plikus, R. E. Baker, C.-C. Chen, C. Fare, D. de la Cruz, T. Andl, P. K. Maini, S. E. Millar, R. Widelitz, C.-M. Chuong. Self-Organizing and Stochastic Behaviors During the Regeneration of Hair Stem Cells. Science, 2011; 332 (6029): 586 DOI: 10.1126/science.1201647

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Potential for solution to baldness? Surprising clues about communication in hair stem cell populations." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509091605.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2011, May 15). Potential for solution to baldness? Surprising clues about communication in hair stem cell populations. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509091605.htm
University of Southern California. "Potential for solution to baldness? Surprising clues about communication in hair stem cell populations." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509091605.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins