The hair follicle is a repository of different types of somatic stem cells. However, even though the hair follicle is both a prominent target organ and a potent, non-classical site of production and/or metabolism of numerous polypetide- and steroid hormones, neuropeptides, neurotransmitters and neurotrophins, the (neuro-)endocrine controls of hair follicle epithelial stem cell (HFeSC) biology remain to be systematically explored. Focussing on HFeSCs, we attempt here to offer a "roadmap through terra incognita" by listing key open questions, by exploring endocrinologically relevant HFeSC gene profiling and mouse genomics data, and by sketching several clinically relevant pathways via which systemic and/or locally generated (neuro-)endocrine signals might impact on HFeSC. Exemplarily, we discuss, e.g. the potential roles of glucocorticoid and vitamin D receptors, the hairless gene product, thymic hormones, bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs) and their antagonists, and Skg-3 in HFeSC biology. Furthermore, we elaborate on the potential role of nerve growth factor (NGF) and substance P-dependent neurogenic inflammation in HFeSC damage, and explore how neuroendocrine signals may influence the balance between maintenance and destruction of hair follicle immune privilege, which protects these stem cells and their progeny. These considerations call for a concerted research effort to dissect the (neuro-)endocrinology of HFeSCs much more systematically than before.
- Epithelial hair follicle stem cells
- Growth factor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology