Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), neurturin (NTN), and their receptors, GDNF family receptor α-1 (GFRα-1) and GDNF family receptor α-2 (GFRα-2), are critically important for kidney and nervous system development. However, their role in skin biology, specifically in hair growth control, is as yet unknown. We have studied expression and function of GDNF, neurturin, GFRα-1, and GFRα-2 in murine skin during the cyclic transformation of the hair follicle (HF) from its resting state (telogen) to active growth (anagen) and then through regression (catagen) back to telogen. GDNF protein and GFRα-1 messenger RNA are prominently expressed in telogen skin, which lacks NTN and GFRα-2 transcripts. Early anagen development is accompanied by a significant decline in the skin content of GDNF protein and GFRα-1 transcripts. During the anagen-catagen transition, GDNF, GFRα-1, NTN, and GFRα-2 transcripts reach maximal levels. Compared with wild-type controls, GFRα-1 (+/-) and GFRα-2 (-/-) knockout mice show a significantly accelerated catagen development. Furthermore, GDNF or NTN administration significantly retards HF regression in organ-cultured mouse skin. This suggests important, previously unrecognized roles for GDNF/GFRα-1 and NTN/GFRα-2 signaling in skin biology, specifically in the control of apoptosis-driven HF involution, and raises the possibility that GFRα-1/GFRα-2 agonists/antagonists might become exploitable for the treatment of hair growth disorders that are related to abnormalities in catagen development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine