Stem cells offer clues to reversing receding hairlines

December 18, 2013

Regenerative medicine may offer ways to banish baldness that don't involve toupees. The lab of USC scientist Krzysztof Kobielak, MD, PhD has published a trio of papers in the journals Stem Cells and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that describe some of the factors that determine when hair grows, when it stops growing and when it falls out.

Authored by Kobielak, postdoctoral fellow Eve Kandyba, PhD, and their colleagues, the three publications focus on located in hair follicles (hfSCs), which can regenerate hair follicles as well as skin. These hfSCs are governed by the signaling pathways BMP and Wnt—which are groups of molecules that work together to control cell functions, including the cycles of hair growth.

The most recent paper, published in the journal Stem Cells in November 2013, focuses on how the gene Wnt7b activates hair growth. Without Wnt7b, hair is much shorter.

The Kobielak lab first proposed Wnt7b's role in a January 2013 PNAS publication. The paper identified a complex network of genes—including the Wnt and BMP signaling pathways—controlling the cycles of hair growth. Reduced BMP signaling and increased Wnt signaling activate . The inverse—increased BMP signaling and decreased Wnt signaling—keeps the hfSCs in a resting state.

Both papers earned the recommendation of the Faculty of 1000, which rates top articles by leading experts in biology and medicine.

A third paper published in Stem Cells in September 2013 further clarified the workings of the BMP signaling pathway by examining the function of two key proteins, called Smad1 and Smad5. These proteins transmit the signals necessary for regulating stem cells during new growth.

"Collectively, these new discoveries advance basic science and, more importantly, might translate into novel therapeutics for various human diseases," said Kobielak. "Since BMP has a key regulatory role in maintaining the stability of different types of adult stem cell populations, the implication for future therapies might be potentially much broader than baldness—and could include skin regeneration for burn patients and skin cancer."

Explore further: Activating pathway could restart hair growth in dormant hair follicles

Related Stories

Activating pathway could restart hair growth in dormant hair follicles

December 5, 2013
A pathway known for its role in regulating adult stem cells has been shown to be important for hair follicle proliferation, but contrary to previous studies, is not required within hair follicle stem cells for their survival, ...

Researchers learn how to break a sweat

October 23, 2013
Without sweat, we would overheat and die. In a recent paper in the journal PLOS ONE, USC faculty member Krzysztof Kobielak and a team of researchers explored the ultimate origin of this sticky, stinky but vital substance—sweat ...

New research provides clues on why hair turns gray

June 14, 2011
A new study by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center has shown that, for the first time, Wnt signaling, already known to control many biological processes, between hair follicles and melanocyte stem cells can dictate ...

Growth factor responsible for triggering hair follicle generation during wound healing identified

June 2, 2013
Researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have determined the role of a key growth factor, found in skin cells of limited quantities in humans, which helps hair follicles form and regenerate ...

Recommended for you

Molecular hitchhiker on human protein signals tumors to self-destruct

July 24, 2017
Powerful molecules can hitch rides on a plentiful human protein and signal tumors to self-destruct, a team of Vanderbilt University engineers found.

Researchers develop new method to generate human antibodies

July 24, 2017
An international team of scientists has developed a method to rapidly produce specific human antibodies in the laboratory. The technique, which will be described in a paper to be published July 24 in The Journal of Experimental ...

New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy

July 24, 2017
A new way of producing the seasonal flu vaccine could speed up the process and provide better protection against infection.

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.