Hirsute-s you, Sir!

August 28, 2006

Scientists looking at mice may have discovered why certain people are hairier than others in what could provide clues as to the reason some men go bald prematurely.

The University of Manchester team has laid bare the molecular processes that determine which embryonic skin cells will form into hair follicles and determine the body's hair pattern.

The findings will be of interest to scientists looking at male-pattern baldness but have more direct implications for people who suffer from ectodermal dysplasia - a range of conditions where skin cells fail to develop into other tissue, including hair follicles.

"During human development, skin cells have the ability to turn into other types of cells to form hair follicles, sweat glands, teeth and nails," said Dr Denis Headon, who led the research. "Which cells are transformed into hair follicles is determined by three proteins that are produced by our genes.

"Our research has identified how one of these proteins working outside of the cell interacts at a molecular level to determine an individual's hair pattern as the embryonic skin spatially organises itself."

The team found that cells given the genetic command to become hair follicles will send out signals to neighbouring cells to prevent them from doing likewise, so producing a specific hair pattern.

They also demonstrated that by hyperactivating the 'hair protein' in embryonic mice, young with considerably more fur than normal were produced.

"We were able to change the number of hair follicles in the embryonic mice while they were developing in the womb," said Dr Headon, who is based in the University's Faculty of Life Sciences.

"The findings could have implications for sufferers of ectodermal dysplasia that are missing this particular protein and who are unable to develop hair follicles during embryonic development.

"The research - while not directly linked to male-pattern baldness - should be of interest to pharmaceutical companies working in this field as understanding the molecular processes at work during follicle development could provide clues as to why follicles shrink and hair growth diminishes in certain men as they get older."
-end-
Ectodermal dysplasia (ED) is a group of closely related, heritable conditions in which there are abnormalities of two or more ectodermal structures, such as the hair, teeth, nails, sweat glands as well as other parts of the body.

The 1990 edition of the Birth Defects Encyclopaedia estimates that up to seven in every 10,000 babies are born with one of the 150 or so ED syndromes.

ED can affect both sexes but is more prevalent in boys. It also affects people of different races and ethnic groups. Probably the most well-known person to suffer from ED is actor Michael Berryman.

University of Manchester

Related Skin Cells Articles from Brightsurf:

Method to derive blood vessel cells from skin cells suggests ways to slow aging
Salk scientists have used skin cells called fibroblasts from young and old patients to successfully create blood vessels cells that retain their molecular markers of age.

Skin stem cells shuffle sugars as they age
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba have shown by in vitro experimentation that changes of glycans in mouse epidermal stem cells may serve as a biomarker of aging.

IU researchers grow hairy skin from human stem cells
Building on years of groundbreaking discoveries in stem cell research, scientists from Indiana University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School have determined how to grow hairy skin using human stem cells--developing one of the most complex skin models in the world.

Researchers restore sight in mice by turning skin cells into light-sensing eye cells
Researchers have discovered a technique for directly reprogramming skin cells into light-sensing rod photoreceptors used for vision, sidestepping the need for stem cells.

How skin cells embark on a swift yet elaborate death
Scientists have identified the mechanism that allows skin cells to sense changes in their environment, and very quickly respond to reinforce the skin's outermost layer.

A molecular atlas of skin cells
Our skin protects us from physical injury, radiation and microbes, and at the same time produces hair and facilitates perspiration.

Skin-cells-turned-to-heart-cells help unravel genetic underpinnings of cardiac function
A small genetic study, published September 30, 2019 in Nature Genetics, identified a protein linked to many genetic variants that affect heart function.

Helping skin cells differentiate could be key to treating common skin cancer
A new study from Penn researchers has identified the key regulator that controls how the skin replaces itself and which can determine if cells turn into cancer.

Signals from skin cells control fat cell specialization
When cells change to a more specialized type, we call this process cellular differentiation.

Research confirms nerve cells made from skin cells are a valid lab model for studying disease
Researchers from the Salk Institute, along with collaborators at Stanford University and Baylor College of Medicine, have shown that cells from mice that have been induced to grow into nerve cells using a previously published method have molecular signatures matching neurons that developed naturally in the brain.

Read More: Skin Cells News and Skin Cells Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.