Stem Cells from Hair Follicles Have Potential to Repair Damaged Neurons in Mice
A subset of the stem cells in hair follicles have the potential to regenerate the coating that insulates neurons in mice. The study offers a new direction for finding therapeutic options for certain neurodegenerative diseases.
In the current study, two groups of the melanocyte stem cells can be identified and separated based on whether they are coated in a glycoprotein called CD34, a surface molecule which is present on other types of stem cells, including stem cells of the blood.
Using hair follicles from mice, the researchers isolated the two populations of melanocyte stem cells and grew them in culture. They were surprised to find that the cells carrying CD34 turn into glial cells.
The new findings suggest that the pocket of CD34-positive melanocyte stem cells in the hair follicle retain some of their earlier abilities. If similar populations exist in human hair follicles, they potentially could be tapped to develop new treatments for nerve injuries and for demyelinating diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.