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J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Feb;131(2):320-8. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.309. Epub 2010 Oct 14.

Effects of IGF-binding protein 5 in dysregulating the shape of human hair.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.


The hair follicle has a unique dynamic property to cyclically regenerate throughout life. Despite significant progress in hair structure and hair shape determination using animal models, the mechanisms controlling the architecture and the shape of the human hair remain largely unexplored. In this study, comparison of the genetic expression of several human genes, especially those involved in growth, development, and differentiation, between Caucasian curly hair and naturally straight hair was performed. Thereafter, analyses using human recombinant and lentiviral vector technologies were conducted to further dissect and elucidate a molecular mechanism that regulates hair growth and development, particularly in controlling the shape of the hair shaft. Overexpression of IGF-binding protein 5 (IGFBP-5) in the human hair xenografts obtained from straight- and curly-haired individuals was found to result in the decreased expression of several extracellular matrix proteins and disassembly of adhesional junctions, resulting in twisted hair shafts as well as an unusual deposition of hair cuticle that may be derived from the disturbance of normal proliferation and differentiation. This study provides evidence that IGFBP-5 has an effect on human hair shape, and that lentiviral transduction regimen can be used for functional analysis of genes involved in human hair morphogenesis.

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