De Novo production of dermal papilla cells during the anagen phase of the hair cycle

Woo Y. Chi, David Enshell-Seijffers, Bruce A. Morgan

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39 Scopus citations


Although keratinocytes are the primary constituents of the hair follicle and generate the hair shaft, mesenchymal cells also play important roles. These include the follicular dermal papilla (DP) and the connective tissue sheath or dermal sheath (CTS). The DP is embedded in the hair bulb during the anagen phase and forms a compact ball during the telogen phase, while CTS cells line the outside of the epithelial follicle from the bulge to its base. The central role of the dermal papilla in regulating the activity of keratinocytes during hair follicle regeneration and hair shaft morphogenesis has been established by extirpation and grafting studies (Ibrahim and Wright, 1977; Jahoda et al., 1984; Jahoda et al., 1993; McElwee et al., 2003), and more recently by direct manipulation of gene expression in the DP in vivo (Enshell-Seijffers et al., 2010). A strong correlation between DP size, hair bulb diameter and hair caliber has been noted (Elliott et al., 1999; Ibrahim and Wright, 1982; Van Scott and Ekel, 1958). The CTS is less accessible to experimental manipulation and its role in the intact follicle is more poorly defined. However, the proximal CTS shares properties with the DP that include the capacity to reform the dermal papilla in grafting studies (McElwee et al., 2003). DP cells undergo comparatively few divisions and the constituents of a DP are a largely static population when compared with the dynamic changes in the keratinocyte populations that abut them. Modest expansion and contraction of cell numbers in the DP occurs over the course of the hair cycle. Tobin and colleagues quantified these changes for the mouse hair cycle, reporting an increase in DP cell numbers during Anagen I–V and a decrease in Anagen VI- telogen (Tobin et al., 2003b). They noted that the increase in DP cell number observed in early anagen precedes detectable proliferation in the DP, and suggested that it results from migration of connective tissue sheath cells into the DP. We have generated a mouse line, Cor-cre, that expresses cre recombinase in the DP (Enshell-Seijffers et al., 2010). When coupled with a cre-dependent reporter gene, this provides a method to trace the fate of DP cells. The reporter gene contains the sequences encoding Yellow Fluorescent Protein (YFP) in the ubiquitously expressed Rosa26 locus that are separated from a promoter by a transcriptional termination cassette flanked by LoxP sites (Srinivas et al., 2001). When this stop cassette is excised in cells expressing cre-recombinase, YFP is expressed in the cell and its progeny regardless of their position in the tissue or changes in expression of the cell type-specific cre recombinase allele. In Cor-cre/+; rYFP/+ mice, YFP is not detected until p3 and effective deletion across the DP population is not complete until p7 (Enshell-Seijffers et al., 2010). By the end of the anagen phase, virtually all DP cells express YFP, while the proximal CTS is variably labeled. Corin is not expressed in catagen or telogen, and although Corin expression returns during early anagen, cre recombinase is not reliably detected until anagen V (data not shown) (Enshell-Seijffers et al., 2008). If all DP cells in a follicle are labeled with YFP at the end of one growth phase, the appearance of unlabelled cells in the subsequent anagen phase would provide evidence of recruitment of new cells to the DP. Mice of the genotype Cor-cre/+; rYFP/+ were sacrificed at p13 and the extent of labeling in the DP was determined in tissue sections (Fig. 1a). In a survey of follicles from 5 mice, no unlabelled DP cells were observed in 94 ±5% of the follicles scored (n=129) (Fig. 2). While most DP cells were labeled in the remaining follicles, one or two cells were unlabelled. During the catagen phase, a compact ball of YFP+ cells is associated with the regressing epithelial strand. In telogen, the descendents of the anagen DP form a compact ball of contiguous labeled cells, surrounded by more elongated cells that are variably labeled (Fig. 1b). The variable labeling of these peripheral cells is consistent with the assumption they derive from the CTS and confirms that most are not descendents of the dermal papilla. However, definitive distinction between DP and CTS derivatives at this stage is not possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2664-2666
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


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