Hair cycle-dependent plasticity of skin and hair follicle innervation in normal murine skin

Vladimir A. Botchkarev, Stefan Eichmüller, Olle Johansson, Ralf Paus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


The innervation of normal, mature mammalian skin is widely thought to be constant. However, the extensive skin remodeling accompanying the transformation of hair follicles from resting stage through growth and regression back to resting (telogen-anagen-catagentelogen) may also be associated with alteration of skin innervation. We, therefore, have investigated the innervation of the back skin of adolescent C57BL/6 mice at various stages of the depilation-induced hair cycle. By using antisera against neuronal (protein gene product 9.5 [PGP 9.5], neurofilament 150) and Schwann cell (S-100, myelin basic protein) markers, as well as against neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) and growth-associated protein-43 (GAP-43), we found a dramatic increase of single fibers within the dermis and subcutis during early anagen. This was paralleled by an increase in the number of anastomoses between the cutaneous nerve plexuses and by distinct changes in the nerve fiber supply of anagen vs. telogen hair follicles. The follicular isthmus, including the bulge, the seat of epithelial follicle stem cells, was found to be the most densely innervated skin area. Here, a defined subpopulation of nerve fibers increased in number during anagen and declined during eatagen, accompanied by dynamic alterations in the expression of NCAM and GAP-43. Thus, our study provides evidence for a surprising degree of plasticity of murine skin innervation. Because hair cycle-associated tissue remodeling evidently is associated with tightly regulated sprouting and regression of nerve fibers, hair cycle-dependent alterations in murine skin and hair follicle innervation offer an intriguing model for studying the controlled rearrangement of neuronal networks in peripheral tissues under physiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-395
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 29 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • GAP-43
  • NCAM
  • Neuronal sprouting
  • PGP 9.5
  • Schwann cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Hair cycle-dependent plasticity of skin and hair follicle innervation in normal murine skin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this