Hair stem cell research is one of the most promising areas for hair restoration in the future. Currently there are many advanced techniques for hair transplantation; however a long journey remains in order to provide hair loss sufferers with an unlimited source of hair, and stem cells might be an answer to this need. In the past we have reported in our blogs of the newest advances in hair restoration through stem cell research from our own research and that of other centers.
A new article published in the Journal of Dermatology Science in February of 2012 sheds fresh light on the subject. Authors, Dr. Chen and Dr. Chuong from Taiwan reported on the type of environment hair stem cells require in order to produce new hair. Hair Stem cell circulation has been thought to be regulated by signals from the micro-environment which is close to them in skin tissue named the "stem cell niche".
The authors proposed recent studies which reveal that there can be multiple layers of environmental controls. These environmental controls were reviewed using the paradigm of hair stem cells. This is because in order to properly observe and analyze hair growth, it is easier to see their regeneration pattern characteristic that occurs on a regular basis in different phases.
The duration of hair growth determines the actual length of hair fibers. We now know the generation of a new anagen hair is a result of the interaction between the two different stem cells in each hair follicle. Hair stem cells located in the bulge of the follicle interact with signals from the dermal papilla to produce a new hair.
The activation of hair stem cells has been shown to be modulated by molecules secreted from the intra-dermal fatty tissue as well as other hormonal signals, immune reactions, neural activities, and the aging process. The general physiological status of individuals is further influenced by cyclic rhythms and changing growth periods. The interactive networks of these environmental factors provide new understanding on how stem cell homeostasis is regulated.
The authors also discuss the environments which are involved in order to make new hair. My hope is that as we become more aware of the circumstances involved in hair growth and development, we can develop more practical ways to use advanced stem cell technology for hair restoration. The optimal solution for hair restoration might not be through the multiplication of hair stem cells, however increased knowledge on the environment which hair follicles grow can lead to procedures that reactivate the existing hair stem cells that are progressing toward miniaturization and eventual baldness. Many physicians believe balding does not permanently affect hair follicles; rather the bald follicles keep their potential to be reactivated and grow healthy hair. This is of course, as long as the right environment is provided for the hair follicles to grow.