A team of researchers from Cologne and Helsinki has discovered a mechanism that prevents hair loss: hair follicle stem cells, essential for hair to regrow, can prolong their life by switching their metabolic state in response to low oxygen concentration in the tissue. The research team was led by Associate Professor Sara Wickström (University of Helsinki and Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Ageing) and the dermatologist Professor Sabine Eming (University of Cologne), and included scientists from the University of Cologne's Cluster of Excellence in Aging Research CECAD, the Max Planck Institute for the Biology of Ageing, Collaborative Research Centre 829 “Molecular Mechanisms Regulating Skin Homeostasis,” the Center for Molecular Medicine (CMMC) (all in Cologne), and the University of Helsinki. The paper “Glutamine Metabolism Controls Stem Cell Fate Reversibility and Long-Term Maintenance in the Hair Follicle” was published online on September 8, 2020 in Cell Metabolism (https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(20)30424-1). Every day, tissues such as the skin and its hair follicles are exposed to environmental damage like ultraviolet radiation. Damaged material is continuously removed and renewed. On average, 500 million cells and 100 hairs are shed every day, amounting to 1.5 grams of material. The dead material is replaced by stem cells, which are specialized, highly proliferative, and long-lived. Tissue function relies on the activity and health of these stem cells; compromised function or reduced number leads to aging. “Although the critical role of stem cells in aging is established, little is known about the mechanisms that regulate the long-term maintenance of these important cells.
Login Or Register To Read Full Story