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Br J Dermatol. 1994 Aug;131(2):184-90.

Comparative analysis of surface antigens in cultured human outer root sheath cells and epidermal keratinocytes: persistence of low expression of class I MHC antigens in outer root sheath cells in vitro.

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Department of Dermatology, Inselspital, University of Berne, Switzerland.


In the anagen human hair follicle, the epithelial cells from the infrainfundibular portion and the hair matrix cells express markedly lower numbers of major histocompatibility complex class I molecules than interfollicular epidermal keratinocytes. During the catagen phase of the hair cycle, class I expression on these cells increases, and activated macrophages aggregate around the follicle, which has led to the hypothesis that the cells to be resorbed are recognized by virtue of their low class I antigen expression. In the present study, we showed that, in vitro, outer root sheath cells also maintain a lower constitutive expression of MHC class I molecules compared with epidermal keratinocytes. In contrast, other surface antigens such as HLA-DR, -DP and -DQ, ICAM-1, LFA-3 and CD29, which are all known to participate in leucocyte-keratinocyte interactions, were similarly expressed in both cell types. Furthermore, interferon gamma strongly upregulated MHC class I and II and ICAM-1 expression in both cell types, whereas CD29 and LFA-3 remained unaffected. Tumour necrosis factor alpha, to a lesser extent, also upregulated MHC class I and ICAM-1 expression, but not class II expression. The differences in constitutive surface antigen expression of infrainfundibular outer root sheath cells compared with interfollicular epidermal keratinocytes emphasizes a distinct role of this cell type in the hair cycle, and possibly also in alopecia areata.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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