Fully mature hair follicles grown in cultures

A representative long sprouting hair follicle generated from hair follicles after a long culture period. Credit: Yokohama National University

A team of researchers from Japan studying the processes of hair follicle growth and hair pigmentation has successfully generated hair follicles in cultures. Their in vitro hair follicle model contributes to the understanding of hair follicle development, which could contribute to the development of useful applications in the treatment of hair loss disorders, animal experiments and drug screening.

Their findings were published in scientific progress on October 21.

As an embryo develops, interactions occur between the outermost layer of the skin, called the epidermal layer, and the connective tissue called mesenchyme. These interactions act as a kind of messenger system to activate the morphogenesis of the hair follicle. Morphogenesis is the process in an organism in which cells are organized into tissues and organs.

In recent decades, scientists have explored the crucial mechanisms associated with hair follicle development using animal models. Because fully understanding these hair follicle development mechanisms remains challenging, hair follicle morphogenesis has not been successfully reproduced in a laboratory culture dish.

More recently, organoid cultures have received a lot of attention. Organoids are small, simple versions of an organ — scientists produce and use them to study tissue and organ development and pathology in a lab culture dish. “Organoids have been a promising tool to elucidate the mechanisms in hair follicle morphogenesis in vitro,” said Tatsuto Kageyama, an assistant professor at Yokohama National University’s engineering faculty.

The research team fabricated hair follicle organoids by checking the structure generated from the two types of embryonic cells using a fairly low concentration of extracellular matrices. The extracellular matrix is ​​the framework in the body that provides structure to cells and tissue. The extracellular matrices adjusted the distance between the two types of embryonic cells from a dumbbell shape to a core-shell configuration. Newly formed hair follicles with typical features arose in core-shell-shape groups. These core-shell-shaped groups increase the contact area between two cell regions to enhance the mechanisms that contribute to hair follicle growth.

The organoid culture system the research team developed generated hair follicles and hair shafts with nearly 100 percent efficiency. The organoids of the hair follicle produced fully mature hair follicles with long hair shafts (approximately 3 mm in length on 23 days of culture). When this growth occurred, the researchers were able to monitor hair follicle morphogenesis and hair pigmentation in vitro and understand the signaling pathways involved in the processes.

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The researchers investigated the feasibility of hair follicle organoids for drug screening and regenerative medicine. They then added a melanocyte-stimulating drug, which plays a key role in producing hair color pigmentation, into the culture medium. With the addition of this drug, the researchers significantly improved the hair pigmentation of the hair-like fibers. Moreover, by transplanting the organoids of the hair follicles, they achieved efficient regeneration of the hair follicles with repetitive hair cycles. They believe that the in vitro hair follicle model could be valuable for a better understanding of hair follicle induction, for evaluating hair pigmentation and hair growth drugs, and for regenerating hair follicles.

The researchers’ findings may also be relevant to other organ systems and contribute to the understanding of how physiological and pathological processes develop. Looking forward to future research, the team plans to optimize their organoid culture system with human cells. “Our next step is to use cells of human origin and apply for drug development and regenerative medicine,” said Junji Fukuda, a professor at Yokohama National University’s engineering faculty.

Their future research could eventually open up new avenues for the development of new treatment strategies for hair loss disorders, such as androgenic alopecia that affects both men and women.

The chemical that regulates life and death in hair follicles

More information:
Tatsuto Kageyama et al, Reprogramming of three-dimensional microenvironments for in vitro hair follicle induction, scientific progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.add4603. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.add4603

Provided by Yokohama National University

Quote: Fully mature hair follicles grown in cultures (2022, October 21) retrieved October 21, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-fully-mature-hair-follicles-grown.html

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