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J Endocrinol. 1992 Apr;133(1):141-7.

Cultured dermal papilla cells from androgen-dependent human hair follicles (e.g. beard) contain more androgen receptors than those from non-balding areas of scalp.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Bradford, U.K.


Androgens stimulate hair growth in many areas, e.g. the beard; they also induce regression and balding on the scalp with increasing age in genetically disposed individuals. The cause(s) of this biological conundrum is unknown but age-related; androgen-potentiated changes also occur in the prostate. The mesenchyme-derived dermal papilla situated at the base of the hair follicle is thought to play an important role in regulating the growth and development of the follicular epithelium. Since androgens probably act on the hair follicle via the dermal papilla, cultures of dermal papilla cells from human hair follicles with differing responses to androgens in vivo have been established and their ability to bind androgens assessed. Receptor binding was assayed by saturation analysis (0.05-10 nmol/l) using the synthetic non-metabolizable androgen, [3H]mibolerone. Shionogi 115 cells were also assayed as a positive control. Specific high-affinity low-capacity androgen receptors were identified in 12 dermal papilla primary cell lines with similar characteristics to established androgen receptors. Cells from androgen-sensitive follicles (beard, scrotum and pubis) contained higher levels of androgen receptors than those derived from relatively androgen-insensitive non-balding scalp follicles whether the receptor content was calculated in relation to cell number, protein or DNA content of the cells. These results support the hypothesis that androgens act on hair follicles via the dermal papilla in vivo and demonstrate that dermal papilla cells exhibit an altered phenotype in culture which depends on the body site from which they were derived.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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