Pterins in human hair follicle cells and in the synchronized murine hair cycle

K. U. Schallreuter, W. D. Beazley, N. A. Hibberts, D. J. Tobin, R. Paus, J. M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Human dermal papilla cells (HDPC) express mRNA for the key enzymes for de novo synthesis/recycling and regulation of the pterin (6R)-L-erythro- 5,6,7,8-tetrahydrobiopterin (6BH4). HDPC had significantly higher enzyme activities and 6BH4 levels in a comparative study with dermal fibroblasts, epidermal melanocytes, and keratinocytes under in vitro conditions. In addition, a significantly more rapid uptake of 14C-L-phenylalanine was demonstrated in HDPC compared with fibroblasts, whereas the differences in turnover to L-tyrosine were insignificant, suggesting a pooling of L- phenylalanine in HDPC. These results suggested that HDPC driven 6BH4 synthesis could be of major functional importance in the hair cycle. In order to follow this hypothesis in vivo, expression of enzyme activities and levels of the produced cofactor during the synchronized hair cycle were determined employing the murine model C57BL/6. These data revealed a significantly increased de novo synthesis for 6BH4 via GTP-cyclohydrolase I concomitant with high levels of 6BH4, and the induction of phenylalanine hydroxylase activities during the telogen/early anagen stage (days 0-1). Pterin levels and enzyme activities fall on day 3 and plateau during the rest of the entire cycle. In addition, thioredoxin reductase and glutathione reductase activities were measured, where the latter enzyme remained constant but thioredoxin reductase activities showed a biphasic behavior. The first peak coincided with the induction of 6BH4 de novo synthesis at the beginning of the hair cycle. The second peak was observed at mid-anagen, when melanogenesis takes place. Taken together, our results show the presence of autocrine pterin synthesis/recycling in human hair follicle cells under in vitro conditions, and a possible role for 6BH4 in the synchronized murine hair cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-550
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • (6R)-L-erythro-5,6,7,8- tetrahydrobiopterin
  • Dermal papilla
  • Hair pigmentation
  • Melanocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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