Category Archives: Foxc1

Escaping Hair Follicle Stem Cells

Dr. Rui Yi and his team from Northwestern University’s YiLab just published a groundbreaking new paper explaining the reason for aging related hair loss. The current findings were shown in various mammals.

Escaped hair stem cells.
Escaped stem cells in aging hair follicles. Source: Nature Aging (2021). Zhang, C., Wang, D., Wang, J. et al.

The Great Stem Cell Escape

The findings in this paper suggest that hair loss is not caused by stem cell death, depletion and exhaustion as has long been postulated. Rather, the stem cells escape from the structures that house them (i.e., the hair follicle bulge). The New York Times has an in-depth summary of these very interesting findings. Also see another take from Futurism.

In order to flee, the cells change their shapes from round to amoeba-like structures. Then they squeeze out of tiny holes in the follicle. Finally, they recover their normal shapes and dart away!

Of note, the researchers (led by Dr. Yi and his PhD student Chi Zhang) discovered two genes (Foxc1 and Nfatc1) that were less active in older aging hair follicle cells. The role of these two genes is to to “imprison” stem cells in the bulge. Note that Foxc1 stands for Forkhead Box C1. Nfatc1 stands for Nuclear Factor of Activated T Cells 1.

This study found a “hitherto unknown activity” of epithelial cells escaping from their niche during the aging process. This escape subsequently leads to stem cell degradation.

“If I did not see it for myself I would not have believed it. It’s almost crazy in my mind.” — Dr. Yi.

Foxc1 and Hair Loss

Note that I have covered Foxc1 in two past posts. The first (“COL17A1 damage and hair turning into skin“) covered a 2016 study whose co-author was also Dr. Rui Yi. Key quote:

“In self-renewing stem cells (SCs), Foxc1 activates Nfatc1 and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling.”

The second post covered a 2016 article from Dr. Elaine Fuchs. In it, she found that Foxc1 plays a critical role in hair follicle and hair color (melanocyte cell) stem cell regenerative capabilities.

Stem cells residing in hair follicles are held in an inactive state for long periods of time. The new findings showed that these quiescent periods are essential for maintaining the stem cells’ rejuvenating potential.

On a somewhat related note, Dr. Yi and his team also published a new paper in September 2021 in relation to miRNA and hair loss. I have added it in that related post.

Brief Items of Interest, March 2016

Hair loss news first:

Since the last “brief items of interest” post a month ago, there have been numerous important developments in the hair loss world. Some involve renowned researchers that have already been covered a few times on this blog before.

— Meiji Seika Pharma (Japan) and Dr. Takashi Tsuji, head of the Laboratory for Organ Regeneration at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology (Japan), have entered into an important partnership.  Their goal is “to develop treatments to regrow lost hair.”  Apparently 12 million adult men in Japan suffer from hair loss. The partnership will focus on regenerative medicine rather than on any kind of drug development.  Japan’s new laws will also help speed up clinical trials in the regenerative medicine sector.

— Also in Japan, a new article on Shiseido mostly covers things we already know and confirms that they will start trials this year. However, the ending is of interest: “The fee to receive the treatment will be at least 100,000 yen ($887).”  A lot cheaper than I expected.

— I have covered Dr. Colin Jahoda and his 3D spheroid culturing of dermal papilla cells on this blog before.  Mr. Jahoda has been a legend in the hair loss research world since the 1980s, but it seems like he may have reached the end of his best years in terms of research.  Thankfully, the Chinese are continuing from where he left off.  A team from Southern Medical University (China) and Dr. Malcolm Xing from Canada have published an interesting update on their work with 3D spheroids.  It seems like they have improved somewhat on Dr. Jahoda’s work with a novel hanging-drop method. I am glad that they are continuing this area of crucial research.  Note that Dr. Xing gave Dr. Jahoda a good deal of credit when I interviewed the former.

— Another renowned researcher that I have covered before, Dr. Elaine Fuchs, just published an important article summarizing how stem cells get activated to produce new hair.  Forkhead box C1 (FOXC1) is a key transcriptional regulator of hair follicle stem cell activity and bulge maintenance.  Also see another summary of the same study.  One of the interesting conclusions of the article seems to imply that premature hair loss is also correlated with premature hair greying.  Something I have noticed in many people.  “Hair follicle stem cells influence the behavior of melanocyte stem cells, which co-inhabit the bulge niche,” explains Fuchs. “Thus, when the numbers of hair follicle stem cells declined with age, so too did the numbers of melanocyte stem cells, resulting in premature greying of whatever hairs were left.”

— Tiny Singapore might have a stagnant and small population, but they still care about hair loss.  Their scientists (plus others from Stanford) recently published a paper covering the gene Axin2 and autocrine Wnt/β-catenin signaling.  Complicated stuff to understand for a non-scientist such as myself.

A new cream based hair loss treatment from Yeditepe University called Kelopesia was just announced out of the blue. Their presentation is amateurish, and as soon as I hear the words “stem cells” along with “hair” these days my scam radar turns on unless the company or institution has been involved in the hair loss research field for many years.  Anyway, these guys are using foreskins for this treatment. Product will supposedly be released in a month.  If it was not a university, I would say a 100 percent certainty this is a scam.  I still feel that this is going to be a major disappointment.

Follicum press release:  successful Phase 1 safety trials.

— Antonio Conte’s hair transplant seems to have turned out to be pretty good.

Christopher1’s experience with Kerastem thread worth following. Under my last post someone posted a comment that the treatment did not work and costs a lot.

— At least once a year, we in the US get to read a story about a major Rogaine theft.  Invariably, the thief is bald and this is emphasized by the media.  I suspect all of these bald Rogaine thieves are selling most of the stolen cans rather than using their contents on their own scalps.

And now on to medical items of interest:

I will shorten this section for this month since the hair loss one was so lengthy.

— An interesting recent video interview/discussion with Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Dr. Bil Andrews and Elizabeth (Liz) Parrish (all three of whom I have covered on this blog before):

— Another recent one with just Dr. Bill Andrews:

— And another recent one with just Liz Parrish:

How long until we can print human faces in the lab?