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Differentiation. 2004 Dec;72(9-10):548-57.

Hair follicle stem cells in the lower bulge form the secondary germ, a biochemically distinct but functionally equivalent progenitor cell population, at the termination of catagen.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, M8 Stellar-Chance Laboratories, 422 Curie Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The lowermost portion of the resting (telogen) follicle consists of the bulge and secondary hair germ. We previously showed that the progeny of stem cells in the bulge form the lower follicle and hair, but the relationship of the bulge cells with the secondary hair germ cells, which are also involved in the generation of the new hair at the onset of the hair growth cycle (anagen), remains unclear. Here we address whether secondary hair germ cells are derived directly from epithelial stem cells in the adjacent bulge or whether they arise from cells within the lower follicle that survive the degenerative phase of the hair cycle (catagen). We use 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine to label bulge cells at anagen onset, and demonstrate that the lowermost portion of the bulge collapses around the hair and forms the secondary hair germ during late catagen. During the first six days of anagen onset bulge cells proliferate and self-renew. Bulge cell proliferation at this time also generates cells that form the future secondary germ. As bulge cells form the secondary germ cells at the end of catagen, they lose expression of a biochemical marker, S100A6. Remarkably, however, following injury of bulge cells by hair depilation, progenitor cells in the secondary hair germ repopulate the bulge and re-express bulge cell markers. These findings support the notion that keratinocytes can "dedifferentiate" to a stem cell state in response to wounding, perhaps related to signals from the stem cell niche. Finally, we also present evidence that quiescent bulge cells undergo apoptosis during follicle remodeling in catagen, indicating that a subpopulation of bulge cells is not permanent.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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