• Development of a novel, clinically-relevant model for investigating factors that stimulate human hair growth

      Randall, Valerie A.; Tobin, Desmond J.; Miranda, Benjamin H. (University of BradfordPlastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit, Department of Biomedical Sciences, 2013-12-02)
      Lack of hair due to alopecia or skin grafting procedures causes significant distress due to hair's role in social and sexual communication. Only limited pharmacological agents are currently available to stimulate hair growth; their development is hampered by inappropriate model systems. Most research involves large terminal scalp follicles rather than the clinical targets of tiny vellus or intermediate follicles. The overall aim of this thesis was to develop a novel model system based on intermediate hair follicles. Initially, intermediate follicles from female pre-auricular skin were characterised and compared to matched terminal follicles. Intermediate follicles were smaller, less pigmented, shorter and possessed a more 'tubular' bulb morphology than their more 'bulbous' terminal counterparts. Significant correlations were demonstrated between various hair follicle measurements and corresponding dermal papilla diameters. Isolated terminal follicles grew significantly more than intermediate hair follicles in organ culture for 9 days. Testosterone (10nM), the major regulator of human hair growth, increased only intermediate follicle growth; the anti-androgen, cyproterone acetate (1¿M), prevented this stimulation, unlike the 5¿-reductase type 2 inhibitor finasteride (40ng/ml). Immunohistochemistry demonstrated androgen receptor and 5¿-reductase type 2 proteins in both follicle types, while quantitative real-time PCR and gene microarray analysis detected their increased gene expression in intermediate follicles. Thus, smaller intermediate follicles showed major morphological and gene expression differences to terminal follicles in vivo and retained significant, biologically-relevant differences in vitro in organ culture including androgen-responsiveness. Therefore, intermediate hair follicles offer a novel, exciting, more clinically relevant, albeit technically difficult, model for future investigations into hair growth.