Hair follicle stem cells: Walking the maze

    Stephan Tiede, Jennifer E. Kloepper, Enikő Bodó, Sanjay Tiwari, Charli Kruse, Ralf Paus
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    TLDR Hair follicle stem cells are key for hair and skin regeneration, can be reprogrammed, and have potential therapeutic uses, but also carry a risk of cancer.
    In 2007, a study titled "Hair follicle stem cells: Walking the maze" investigated the role and potential of epithelial stem cells (eSCs) in the bulge region of hair follicles in mice and humans. The researchers found that these eSCs are crucial for the cyclic regeneration of the anagen hair bulb, sebaceous gland, and the epidermis after injury. They also identified other stem cell populations in or near the hair follicle epithelium, including melanocyte stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells. The study suggested that hair follicle stem cells could be reprogrammed and dedifferentiated in vitro, and develop a wider range of differentiation potential after wounding or trauma. The researchers also highlighted the potential therapeutic applications of these findings, such as the use of autologous hair follicle stem cells for treating burn victims, promoting the healing of chronic leg ulcers, generating new human hair follicles, and for gene therapy strategies. However, the study also noted the potential risk of cancer development due to the self-renewing nature of stem cells.
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