Enhanced in vitro hair growth at the air-liquid interface: minoxidil preserves the root sheath in cultured whisker follicles.


Waldon DJ, Kawabe TT, Baker CA, Johnson GA, Buhl AE


Upjohn Laboratories, Department of Dermatology Research, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49001.


In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim, 29A: 7, 1993 Jul, 555-61


Inasmuch as hair follicles are difficult to maintain in culture, the study of hair biology using cultured hair follicles has met with only limited success. In our attempts to solve the problem of follicle degeneration, we cultured follicles at the air-surface interface on a modified collagen matrix (Gelfoam). In follicles cultured at the air-surface or submerged, we examined follicular morphology, hair shaft growth, sulfotransferase levels, cysteine incorporation, an expression of a tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP), and ultra-high sulfur keratin (UHSK). Follicles cultured at the air-liquid interface produced a 2.7-fold increase in hair growth and maintained an anagen-like morphology. Substrates such as nylon mesh seeded with fibroblasts, Full Thickness Skin, or 5-microns polycarbonate filter also supported hair growth, whereas Gelfilm, GF-A glass filter, filter paper, or 1-micron polycarbonate filter did not. The UHSK expression was significantly higher in the air-liquid interface cultures compared to the submerged culture. Several potassium channel openers, including minoxidil, a minoxidil analog, and the pinacidil analog (P-1075), all stimulated significant cysteine incorporation in follicles. Minoxidil and its analog specifically preserved the follicular root sheath, in contrast to P-1075 which did not, indicating a difference in the two drug types. The preservation of the root sheath was measured by increased TIMP expression and sulfotransferase activity and indicates that the root sheath is a target tissue for minoxidil. Our results show that follicles cultured at the air-liquid interface maintain a better morphology and produced greater hair growth than follicles cultured on tissue culture plastic.

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