- Melatonin, an evolutionarily ancient derivative of serotonin with hormonal properties, is the main neuroendocrine secretory product of the pineal gland. Although melatonin is best known to regulate circadian rhythmicity and lower vertebrate skin pigmentation, the full spectrum of functional activities of this free radical-scavenging molecule, which also induces/promotes complex antioxidative and DNA repair systems, includes immunomodulatory, thermoregulatory, and antitumor properties. Because this plethora of functional melatonin properties still awaits to be fully appreciated by dermatologists, the current review synthesizes the main features that render melatonin a promising candidate for the management of several dermatoses associated with substantial oxidative damage.
- Vitiligo repigmentation is a complex process in which the melanocyte-depleted interfollicular epidermis is repopulated by melanocyte precursors from hair follicle bulge that proliferate, migrate, and differentiate into mature melanocytes on their way to the epidermis. The strongest stimulus for vitiligo repigmentation is narrow-band UVB (NBUVB), but how the hair follicle melanocyte precursors are activated by UV light has not been extensively studied. To better understand this process, we developed an application that combined laser capture microdissection and subsequent whole transcriptome RNA sequencing of hair follicle bulge melanocyte precursors and compared their gene signatures to that of regenerated mature epidermal melanocytes from NBUVB-treated vitiligo skin.
- β-Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) cause near ubiquitous latent skin infection within long-lived hair follicle (HF) keratinocyte stem cells. In patients with epidermodysplasia verruciformis, β-HPV viral replication is associated with skin keratosis and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. To determine the role of HF keratinocyte stem cells in β-HPV-induced skin carcinogenesis, we utilized a transgenic mouse model in which the keratin 14 promoter drives expression of the entire HPV8 early region (HPV8tg).
- The in situ control of redox insult in human organs is of major clinical relevance, yet remains incompletely understood. Activation of nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2), the “master regulator” of genes controlling cellular redox homeostasis, is advocated as a therapeutic strategy for diseases with severely impaired redox balance. It remains to be shown whether this strategy is effective in human organs, rather than only in isolated human cell types. We have therefore explored the role of Nrf2 in a uniquely accessible human (mini-) organ: scalp hair follicles.
- Topical imiquimod (IMQ) application is widely used as a model for psoriasiform-like skin inflammation in mice. Although the effects on the epidermis are well characterized, it is unclear how IMQ affects hair follicles and cycling. Here we investigated how IMQ affects hair follicle stem cells and whether the timing of IMQ application influences the immune infiltrate. Our results show that IMQ application at mid and late telogen activated hair follicle stem cells leading to premature hair cycle entry (anagen), which was accompanied by massive infiltration of inflammatory macrophages and gamma delta T cells, whereas the number of the respective resident populations decreased.
- Alopecia areata (AA) is believed to be a cell-mediated autoimmune hair loss disease. Both CD4 and cytotoxic CD8 T cells (CTLs) are important for the onset and progression of AA. Hair follicle (HF) keratinocyte and/or melanocyte antigen epitopes are suspected potential targets of autoreactive CTLs, but the specific epitopes have not yet been identified. We investigated the potential for a panel of known epitopes, expressed by HF keratinocytes and melanocytes, to induce activation of CTL populations in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
- Hair follicles (HFs) undergo lifelong cyclical transformations, progressing through stages of rapid growth (anagen), regression (catagen), and relative “quiescence” (telogen). Given that HF cycling abnormalities underlie many human hair growth disorders, the accurate classification of individual cycle stages within skin biopsies is clinically important and essential for hair research. For preclinical human hair research purposes, human scalp skin can be xenografted onto immunocompromised mice to study human HF cycling and manipulate long-lasting anagen in vivo.