Activated skin mast cells are involved in murine hair follicle regression (Catagen)

Marcus Maurer, Evalies Fischer, Bori Handjiski, Esther Von Stebut, Bernd Algermissen, Assad Bavandi, Ralf Paus

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84 Scopus citations


Increasing evidence supports a role for mast cells (MC) in the control of tissue remodeling. Using the cyclic growth and regression activity of the murine hair follicle (HF) as a model, we have previously demonstrated that MC are involved in regulating the HF transformation from resting (telogen) to active hair growth (anagen). In the present study, we investigated the potential role of skin MC in spontaneous HF regression (catagen), a rapid and highly controlled process of organ involution characterized by massive epithelial cell apoptosis. By histochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and electron microscopy, we first assessed the number, location, and granulation status of perifollicular MC during the anagen-catagen-telogen transformation of back skin HF. Spontaneous catagen induction was associated with a dramatic reduction of dermal MC numbers, preceded by an increase in the percentage of degranulated MC. In vivo, the MC-secretagogues substance P and adrenocorticotropic hormone induced premature and dystrophic catagen development in anagen HF, whereas inhibitors of MC degranulation retarded normal catagen development. Comparing HF cycling n MC-deficient WBB6F1- Kit(W)/Kit(Wv) and congenic normal (+/+) mice, catagen development was retarded in the virtual absence of MC. These data support the notion that MC function as hair cycle regulators and are involved in the control of HF regression. The mouse model employed here offers an excellent tool for dissecting the physiologic role of MC as 'central switchboards of tissue remodeling' in developmentally regulated systems, specifically in organ involution processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-332
Number of pages14
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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