Stem cells offer clues to reversing receding hairlines

December 18, 2013, University of Southern California

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

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

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.