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Br J Dermatol. 1999 Sep;141(3):447-52.

Epimorphin expression during human foetal hair follicle development.

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Division of Dermatology, Kitasato Institute Hospital, Tokyo 108-8642, Japan.


Epimorphin is a mesenchymal protein expressed in several organs and known to have an essential role in epithelial tissue organization, including hair follicle morphogenesis, in mice. Although about 90% homology has been reported between human and mouse epimorphin exon sequences, there is no information about expression and function of epimorphin in hair follicle development in humans. In order to elucidate the expression pattern of epimorphin in human hair follicle morphogenesis and to compare it with the distribution of tenascin and neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), skin samples from human foetuses of a series of estimated gestational ages (EGAs) (46-168 days EGA) were studied using monoclonal anti-epimorphin antibody MC-1, anti-tenascin antibody and anti-human NCAM antibody. Epimorphin was detected in the mesenchymal cell condensation at the pregerm stage (< 75 days EGA), and there was strong expression of epimorphin in the perifollicular mesenchymal cells around the hair germ (75-84 days EGA). At the hair peg stage (85-104 days EGA), epimorphin was around the hair peg with the strongest staining in the neck portion. This sequence of staining patterns was similar to that of tenascin. In the bulbous hair peg (105-134 days EGA), the perifollicular dermal mesenchymal cells were evenly positive for epimorphin. Mesenchymal cells underneath the follicle bulb prior to formation of the dermal papilla were also positive for epimorphin. In the lanugo hair follicle (> 134 days EGA), dermal papilla cells expressed epimorphin as well as tenascin and NCAM. These results indicate that epimorphin expression is closely linked to developing hair follicles in human foetuses. This suggests that epimorphin may have an important part in induction of morphogenesis during human foetal hair follicle development.

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