Category Archives: microRNA

3D Culturing of Hair and Dermal Papilla Cells

When it comes to hair cloning and tissue engineering, 3D culturing related research is booming. The 3D culturing of cells can occur via scaffold techniques or via scaffold free techniques such as 3D spheroids.

Update: July 28, 2020

Recent Studies on 3D Culturing of Hair Cells

Over the past few months, a number of studies have come out in relation to 3D culturing of hair cells (in particular, dermal papilla cells). Below, I list them from most recent to oldest.

July 27, 2020 — A new study from North Carolina State University compared 3D versus 2D cultured dermal papilla cells. The 3D dermal papilla cells in a scaffold performed best in regrowing hair. More interestingly, the scientists also studied microRNAs (miRNAs) in dermal exosomes from both the 2D and 3D DP cells. The team then identified one (miR-218-5p) in particular as a key promoter of hair growth. Per lead study investigator Dr. Ke Cheng, the best part is that MiRNAs can be developed into small molecule-based drugs, including creams. A much easier feat in comparison to cell growth, expansion and injection.

June 16, 2020 — Several people in the comments mentioned a new paper titled: “Generation of human hair follicle organoids in vitro and ex vivo by co-culture of primary human hair matrix keratinocytes and dermal papilla fibroblasts”. One of the co-authors of this paper is Dr. Ralf Paus. This experiment succeeded in human scalp skin and not just in mice (h/t reader “Joe”).

April 28, 2020 — Culturing human hair follicle dermal papilla cells in a 3D self-assembling peptide scaffold. The results of this study suggest a new potential 3D culture platform based on a self-assembling peptide scaffold called RAD16-I. This method successfully created hair follicle dermal papilla cells.

3D Culturing Hair Follicles
3D Culturing of Hair Follicles and Dermal Papilla Cells. Source: Wiley Online Library.

April 15, 2020 — A new paper on reconstructed human skin with working hair follicles. Co-authors include the renowned Dr. Roland Lauster and Dr. Gerd Lindner.

The results section has an interesting part titled “Comparison of cultured neopapillae spheroids with scalp hair dermal papillae”. Several of the images of the 3D cultured hair follicles are shown on the right. Neopapillae spheroids were constructed from expanded self‐aggregating dermal papilla cells.

December 26, 2019Tissue engineering strategies for human hair follicle regeneration. This review analyzes the various research approaches being developed to tackle hair follicle bioengineering. Lots of discussion about 3D culturing, various types of scaffolding and dermal papilla trichogenicity. For the scientifically inclined readers, Table 1 is quite useful and I am pasting a small part of it here:

Hair Follicle Tissue Engineering Approaches

December 13, 2018 — An important paper with Dr. Angela Christiano, Dr. Colin Jahoda and Dr. Etienne Wang as co-authors. They created 3D-printed hair follicle molds using a biomimetic approach. I covered this work in detail in my 2018 post on biomimetic tissue engineering of hair follicles.


October 22, 2013

3D Spheroid Culturing of Dermal Papilla Cells

This week seems to be full of interesting developments, but the below news made all the global headlines.

Dr. Angela Christiano (Columbia University — US) and Dr. Colin Jahoda (Durham University — UK) just released their latest findings on hair follicle culturing. Their main discovery involves using a “hanging-drop” method of 3D spheroid culturing of dermal papilla cells. As opposed to a regular 2D petri dish culturing method that had failed in the past.

This new 3D method has shown significant success. However, it is still a years away from being able to be used in humans with consistent and safe results.

Media Coverage

For more, see this video with the hair follicle blessed Dr. Christiano. Edit: Per the Fox News video in the link at the bottom, it seems like she wears a wig and suffers from Alopecia Areata.

An audio interview from BBC with Dr. Colin Jahoda

And now some other links to their findings:

Article from BBC

Article from New Scientist

Article from NYtimes

Article with Video from Fox News

Maksim Plikus and Zhengquan Yu

Update: September 2020 — New Interview with Dr. Maksim Plikus:

Yesterday, Reddit PLOS Science Wednesday AMA (Ask Me Anything) had a highly unusual session with two hair loss experts: Dr. Zhengquan Yu and Dr. Maksim Plikus. Official citation link is now here. While the title of the session only mentioned Mr. Yu, the two experts spent an equal amount of time answering questions.

MicroRNA (miR-22) and Hair Loss

Earlier this year, Mr. Yu co-authored an important paper on the influence of microRNA (miR-22) in hair loss in mice that was published in PLOS.

Update: July 27, 2020 — New study from North Carolina State University finds MicroRNA (miR-218-5p) shows promise for hair growth.

Surprisingly, Mr. Yu is an associate professor at the China Agricultural University, one of the last places where you would expect to see research on hair loss. I found it funny that somewhere in the AMA, Mr. Yu mentions the potential for creating hairy goats!!

Several days ago Chinese scientists also announced the creation of genetically modified tiny pigs to keep as pets. One day I should fly over to China to see where all the secretive hair loss research is taking place.

Dr. Maksim Plikus and Dr. Zhengquan Yu on Reddit

While Mr. Plikus was not a co-author of the above paper, his responses on the Reddit were quite thorough and interesting. I did not realize the huge amount of work that he has already done on hair loss related research. Mr. Plikus is an assistant professor at the University of California Irvine.

Getting back to the Reddit AMA, some of the more interesting Q&A’s:

Question from “Wkbrdnjoe”: “Now that you guys have found positive results in mice, what is the next step? Testing humans?”

Answer from Maksim Plikus: “Mouse findings would certainly have to be validated in humans. Currently, pilot testing on human hair follicles is possible using two experimental approaches: (i) organotypic hair follicle culture, and (ii) human-on-mouse xenografts. Anagen phase hair follicles, including human follicles, can continue to grow in vitro under specialized culture conditions for approximately one week.

Human hair follicles grafted on immune compromised mice can grow for many months, imitating their normal, long-lasting anagen phase.  Both approaches are widely used in human hair follicle research.  Importantly, human hair follicles significantly differ from mouse in terms of signaling regulation. For instance, while human hair follicles are highly sensitive to androgen signaling, mouse follicles are not. Therefore, mice can not recapitulate the pathogenesis of human androgenetic alopecia.”

Later on, Maksim Plikus responds to a lengthy question from famous hair loss forum member “Swooping” with the following:
“Your knowledge on androgenetic alopecia already appears to be pretty extensive. As you can appreciate, it has a complex mechanism, therefore many if not all factors that you mentioned are probably involved in its pathogenesis. What is important is to figure out which ones are upstream and which are downstream. This would affect the therapeutic potential of the targets.

As I already mentioned in another reply, rodents and mice specifically, are not an appropriate model for studying androgenetic alopecia. Mouse hair follicles grow very differently from human scalp follicles. Mouse dorsal hairs grow only for about 2 weeks and attain 0.7-1cm in length. This is equivalent to human scalp vellus hair. Moreover, mouse follicles do not respond to androgens the same way human follicles do, and mice do not develop androgenetic alopecia in response to testosterone treatment. This limited the research progress in androgenetic alopecia field. However, we now have organotypic culture system and human-on-mouse xenograft model that can be used for studies on human follicles.”

And the most optimistic response from Maksim Plikus: “Recent studies showed that dormant hair follicles in patients with androgenetic alopecia maintain their key stem cell population. Please refer to this study. This suggests that as long as the signaling mechanism of androgenetic alopecia pathogenesis can be interrupted, dormant scalp hair follicles can regrow. For instance, this 2003 study showed that grafting of vellus human scalp follicles onto mouse partially restores their normal growth characteristics: link.”

Some quotes from Zhengquan Yu regarding his work on miR-22:

“Based on this study, miR-22 antimir could be an effective drug for hair loss.”

“miR-22 antagomir or other anti-miR-22 oligonucletides could be used to inhibit miR-22 function, which would prevent hair loss or maintain prolonged follicle life.”

“I think that our findings provide a new therapeutic target to treat hair loss in way of microRNA. The cause of hair loss is pretty complex, it is hard to develop effective treatment for all patients. However, inhibition of miR-22 could benefit a certain number of patients whose hair loss caused by increasing miR-22.”

— Some more detailed technical responses are in the AMA that I will not paste here. Including many links to studies related to the complex genetics involved in MPB, plus discussions on quorum sensing, signaling and more.