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J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 1999 Dec;4(3):296-301.

Human hair follicle bulge cells are biochemically distinct and possess an epithelial stem cell phenotype.

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University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Department of Pathology, Philadelphia 19104, USA.


Stem cells are vital for the homeostasis of self-renewing tissues and their manipulation may have wide ranging applications, including gene therapy, wound repair, and tissue transplantation. Although rodent hair follicle stem cells have been localized to the follicle bulge, the location of human hair follicle stem cells is less clear, and their characterization has been hampered by a lack of cellular markers for the bulge area. We demonstrate that the C8/144B monoclonal antibody, originally raised against a CD8 peptide sequence, immunostains the human hair follicle bulge. We show that this antibody recognizes cytokeratin 15 (K15) in keratinocytes, and that K15-positive bulge cells possess a stem cell phenotype characterized by their slowly cycling nature, proliferation at the onset of new hair follicle growth, and high level of beta1 integrin expression. These results localize human hair follicle stem cells to the bulge and suggest that K15 is preferentially expressed in epithelial stem cells.

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