Scientists Obtain ‘How to’ Guide to Produce Hair Follicles

How does the skin develop follicles and eventually sprout hair?

Scientists Obtain 'How to' Guide to Produce Hair Follicles
Two types of progenitor cells from dissociated skin—epidermal (green) and dermal (red)—undergo a series of morphological transitions to form reconstituted skin. (Images by Mingxing Lei/Cheng-Ming Chuong Lab)

How does the skin create follicles and in the long run grow hair? Scientists address this question by utilizing experiences gathered from organoids, 3D assemblies of cells possessing rudimentary skin structure and function including the ability to produce hair follicles.

Scientists began their study with separated skin cells from an infant mouse. They analyze hundreds of time-lapse movies to analyze the collective cell behavior. They found that cells formed organoids by transitioning through six distinct phases: 1. Dissociated cells 2. Aggregated cells 3. Cysts 4. Coalesced cysts 5. layered skin and 6. skin with follicles.

In the case of adult mouse, dissociated skin cells only reached phase 2 aggregation before stalling in their development and failing to produce hair follicles. To understand the strength properly, scientists analyzed the molecular events and physical processes that drove successful organoid formation with newborn mouse cells.

They observed increased activity in genes like the protein collagen, the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin, the formation of cellular sheets, the adhesion, death or differentiation of cells, and many other processes.

They also observed which genes were active with the time that makes organized take place. Later on, they blocked the activity of specific genes to confirm their roles in organoid development.

Cheng-Ming Chuong, the senior author said, “Normally, many aging individuals do not grow hair well, because adult cells gradually lose their regenerative ability. With our new findings, we are able to make adult mouse cells produce hair again. In the future, this work can inspire a strategy for stimulating hair growth in patients with conditions ranging from alopecia to baldness.”

Via precisely examining these formative procedures, scientists obtained a molecular guide to the stalled organoids derived from adult mouse skin cells. After providing the right molecular and genetic cues in the proper sequence, they were able to optimize these adult organoids to continue their development and eventually produce hair.

They found a significant improvement in adult organoids by 40%.