A study shedding light onto the way hair follicles affect immune cells in the skin could help lead to treatments for baldness and dermatitis.
An international team of researchers, led by Keisuke Nagao of Keio University, investigated how hair follicles respond to external stress in mice.
The team applied adhesive tape to the skin and then peeled it off. They found that immune cells migrated from hair follicles, located deep in the skin’s pores, to the surface of the skin, causing inflammation. Further investigations showed that the hair follicles emitted proteins to guide these cells.
The scientists found the same mechanism at work in human subjects.
"Atopic dermatitis is thought to be due in part to excessive skin reaction caused by immune cells, which are themselves controlled by proteins emitted from hair follicles," Nagao said. "Development of drugs that suppress the workings of these proteins could help treat bald spots and dermatitis."
Baldness, including alopecia areata, occurs when the immune cells attack hair-generating cells in the patient's own hair follicles.
The research results were published online in the U.S. scientific journal Nature Immunology on June 24.
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