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J Invest Dermatol. 2002 Apr;118(4):631-8.

Targeted expression of human vitamin d receptor in the skin promotes the initiation of the postnatal hair follicle cycle and rescues the alopecia in vitamin D receptor null mice.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

Abstract

Alopecia is a predominant feature of vitamin D receptor inactivation in mice and humans. To determine the role of vitamin D receptor in the regulation of hair growth directly, we used the human keratin 14 promoter to target human vitamin D receptor expression to the skin of transgenic mice, and generated vitamin D receptor null mice that express the human vitamin D receptor transgene. Parallel studies were carried out in littermates of wild-type, vitamin D receptor null, transgenic, and human vitamin D receptor-expressing null mice in two transgenic lines. The transgenic mice were grossly normal. The vitamin D receptor null and vitamin D receptor null/human vitamin D receptor mice were growth retarded and developed hypocalcemia, secondary hyperparathyroidism, and rickets. In contrast to the vitamin D receptor null mice that developed alopecia, however, the vitamin D receptor null/human vitamin D receptor mice displayed a normal hair coat, and their hair shaft and skin histology were indistinguishable from those of the wild-type mice. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed that the human vitamin D receptor was highly expressed in the basal layer of the epidermis and outer root sheath of the hair follicle. During follicular morphogenesis, no major histologic differences were seen in the skin of wild-type, vitamin D receptor null, transgenic, and vitamin D receptor null/human vitamin D receptor littermates. When anagen was induced by hair depilation at day 20 after birth, the vitamin D receptor null mice failed to initiate the hair cycle, whereas the vitamin D receptor null/human vitamin D receptor mice displayed the same pattern of anagen follicle formation as the wild-type mice. Interestingly, the transgenic mice initiated the follicular cycle earlier than the wild-type and vitamin D receptor null/human vitamin D receptor mice in a gene concentration-dependent manner. Taken together, these data provide direct evidence that vitamin D receptor is required for the initiation of the postnatal hair follicular cycle in mice.

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