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FASEB J. 2000 Apr;14(5):752-60.

Control of murine hair follicle regression (catagen) by TGF-beta1 in vivo.

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Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA. Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Eppendorf, University of Hamburg, D-20246 Hamburg, Germany. Departme.


The regression phase of the hair cycle (catagen) is an apoptosis-driven process accompanied by terminal differentiation, proteolysis, and matrix remodeling. As an inhibitor of keratinocyte proliferation and inductor of keratinocyte apoptosis, transforming growth factor beta1 (TGF-beta1) has been proposed to play an important role in catagen regulation. This is suggested, for example, by maximal expression of TGF-beta1 and its receptors during late anagen and the onset of catagen of the hair cycle. We examined the potential involvement of TGF-beta1 in catagen control. We compared the first spontaneous entry of hair follicles into catagen between TGF-beta1 null mice and age-matched wild-type littermates, and assessed the effects of TGF-beta1 injection on murine anagen hair follicles in vivo. At day 18 p.p., hair follicles in TGF-beta1 -/- mice were still in early catagen, whereas hair follicles of +/+ littermates had already entered the subsequent resting phase (telogen). TGF-beta1-/- mice displayed more Ki-67-positive cells and fewer apoptotic cells than comparable catagen follicles from +/+ mice. In contrast, injection of TGF-beta1 into the back skin of mice induced premature catagen development. In addition, the number of proliferating follicle keratinocytes was reduced and the number of TUNEL + cells was increased in the TGF-beta1-treated mice compared to controls. Double visualization of TGF-beta type II receptor (TGFRII) and TUNEL reactivity revealed colocalization of apoptotic nuclei and TGFRII in catagen follicles. These data strongly support that TGF-beta1 ranks among the elusive endogenous regulators of catagen induction in vivo, possibly via the inhibition of keratinocyte proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Thus, TGF-betaRII agonists and antagonists may provide useful therapeutic tools for human hair growth disorders based on premature or retarded catagen development (effluvium, alopecia, hirsutism).

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