There have been recent developments in hair follicle regeneration therapy and regenerative medicine using hair follicle stem cells.
In the research on hair follicle regeneration therapy, it has been reported that the injection of connective tissue hair root sheath cells, extracted from the hair follicles of the back of the head, into the balding areas of patients with male pattern baldness, leads to improvements in the amount and thickness of hair. This is being regarded as a promising treatment for refractory alopecia.
On the other hand, research on regenerative medicine using hair follicle stem cells has shown promising results in the treatment of nerve regeneration and spinal cord injuries in mice. Specifically, by transplanting hair follicle stem cells into specific nerve sites, peripheral nerves and central nerves are regenerating, and improvements in motor function are also being observed.
Additionally, research is underway to create cardiac muscle cells from hair follicle stem cells. By transforming rat hair follicle stem cells into cardiac muscle, there is an indication that the number of heart muscle cells increases, and the regeneration of the damaged part of the heart is being promoted. This method has a higher safety profile than other stem cells, such as iPS cells, and clinical applications are expected in the regeneration therapy of peripheral nerves, spinal cords, and hearts.
Overall, hair follicle regeneration therapy and regenerative medicine using hair follicle stem cells are fields opening up new prospects in treatments such as hair loss, nerve regeneration, and heart regeneration, and further research is increasingly expected.
Dr. Munenori Matsuzawa, Chief Medical Officer, Aoyama Medical Clinic.
1) Yamazaki A, Yashiro M, Mii S, et al: Isoproterenol di- rects hair follicle-associated pluripotent (HAP) stem cells to differentiate in vitro to cardiac muscle cells which can be induced to form beating heart-muscle tis- sue sheets, Cell Cycle. 2016:15:760-765.
2) Takaoka N, Yamane M, Obara K, et al: Hair-follicle- associated pluripotent (HAP) stem cells differentiate