A subset of stem cells in hair follicles has the potential to regenerate the coating that isolates the neurons in mice, reports Thomas Hornyak of the VA Maryland Health Care System and the University of Maryland School of Medicine in a new study published on 24 April PLOS Genetics . The study provides a new direction for finding therapeutic options for certain neurodegenerative diseases.
Due to the pigments that are produced by cells, the so-called melanocytes, hair and skin take on different nuances of red, brown, black and yellow. Melanocytes are derived embryonically from cells, the so-called neural crest cells. These are cells that can also form neurons and their supporting glial cells. Earlier, Hornyak and his colleagues identified two different pockets of stem cells that form melanocytes in mature hair follicles. In the current study, they show that the two groups of melanocyte stem cells can be identified and separated, depending on whether they are coated with a glycoprotein called CD34, a surface molecule that is present in other types of stem cells, including stem cells ,
Using hair follicles from mice, the researchers isolated the two populations of melanocyte stem cells and cultivated them in culture. They were surprised to discover that the CD34 cells became glial cells. In the nervous system, glial cells coat neurons with fatty insulation called myelin, which increases the rate at which nerve impulses travel. In addition, the researchers discovered that the CD34-positive stem cells can regenerate myelin on neurons, both in cell cultures and in injections into mice that have a gene defect that prevents the formation of myelin sheaths.
The new findings suggest that the pocket of CD34-positive melanocyte stem cells in the hair follicle retain some of their previous capabilities. If similar populations are present in human hair follicles, they could potentially be tapped to provide new treatments for nerve injuries and for demyelinating diseases, e.g. As multiple sclerosis to develop. "In the future, we plan to continue our research in this area by determining whether these cells can enhance the functional recovery of neuronal injury," said Dr. Thomas Hornyak, "and the genome-wide information that we have described in the current study use to identify identical cells in human skin."
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Hair Follicle Stem Cells Can Repair Damaged Neurons in Mice (2019, April 24)
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