This approach has the potential to transform the medical treatment of hair loss.
Current hair-loss medications tend to slow the loss of hair follicles or potentially stimulate the growth of existing hairs, but they do not create new hair follicles.
This method, in contrast, has the potential to actually grow new follicles using a patient’s own cells.
Growth of de novo hair follicles in adult skin occurs by a process known as hair neogenesis. One way of initiating neogenesis is to place dermal papillae isolated from the hair follicle in contact with an overlying epidermis where they reprogram the epidermis to adopt a follicular fate. This approach, however, has not been successful using cultured human dermal papilla cells in human skin because the cells lose their ability to induce hair growth after expansion in vitro. In this paper, we demonstrate that by manipulating cell culture conditions to establish three-dimensional papilla spheroids, we restore dermal papilla inductivity. We also use several systems biology approaches to gain a comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underlie this regenerative process.
De novo organ regeneration has been observed in several lower organisms, as well as rodents; however, demonstrating these regenerative properties in human cells and tissues has been challenging. In the hair follicle, rodent hair follicle-derived dermal cells can interact with local epithelia and induce de novo hair follicles in a variety of hairless recipient skin sites. However, multiple attempts to recapitulate this process in humans using human dermal papilla cells in human skin have failed, suggesting that human dermal papilla cells lose key inductive properties upon culture. Here, we performed global gene expression analysis of human dermal papilla cells in culture and discovered very rapid and profound molecular signature changes linking their transition from a 3D to a 2D environment with early loss of their hair-inducing capacity. We demonstrate that the intact dermal papilla transcriptional signature can be partially restored by growth of papilla cells in 3D spheroid cultures. This signature change translates to a partial restoration of inductive capability, and we show that human dermal papilla cells, when grown as spheroids, are capable of inducing de novo hair follicles in human skin.
SOURCES – BBC News, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America