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Exp Dermatol. 2007 Aug;16(8):671-7.

Oligonucleotide treatment increases eumelanogenesis, hair pigmentation and melanocortin-1 receptor expression in the hair follicle.

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Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


It was previously reported that telomere homologue oligonucleotides (T-oligos) can induce a variety of cellular responses in skin including increased melanogenesis. To assess the effects of T-oligos on hair pigmentation, we administered thymidine dinucleotide (pTT), one-third of the TTAGGG telomere repeat sequence, intradermally at distinct time points of the depilation-induced hair cycle in C3H/HeJ mice. Penetration of T-oligos into the hair follicle (HF) was monitored by using FITC-labelled pTT and confocal microscopy. pTT treatment on days 1-5 after depilation, during early anagen, did not significantly alter the number and proliferation of melanocytes (Trp-2-positive cells), compared with vehicle-treated controls. However, pTT treatment on days 5-12 after depilation, during mid- to late anagen, resulted in the formation of darker hairs, that showed a significantly increased eumelanin/total melanin ratio in their sub-apical agouti band region, compared with vehicle-treated controls (P < 0.05). By RT-PCR and western blot, full thickness skin of pTT-treated mice showed increases in Trp-1, Trp-2 and tyrosinase mRNA and protein levels, compared with control mice. Western blot analyses of two receptors that positively regulate eumelanogenesis, melanocortin type 1 receptor (MC-1R) and kit, showed increased expression of MC-1R protein in pTT-treated versus control skin, while the levels of c-kit receptor remained unchanged. These data demonstrate that pTT treatment increases eumelanogenesis in HFs, associated with increased tyrosinase, TRP-1 and MC-1R expression. These data also raise the possibility of using T-oligos to modulate hair pigmentation.

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