A guide to studying human Hair follicle cycling in vivo

Ji Won Oh, Jennifer Kloepper, Ewan A. Langan, Yongsoo Kim, Joongyeub Yeo, Min Ji Kim, Tsai Ching Hsi, Christian Rose, Ghil Suk Yoon, Seok Jong Lee, John Seykora, Jung Chul Kim, Young Kwan Sung, Moonkyu Kim, Ralf Paus, Maksim V. Plikus*

*Corresponding author for this work
97 Citations (Scopus)


Hair follicles (HFs) undergo lifelong cyclical transformations, progressing through stages of rapid growth (anagen), regression (catagen), and relative "quiescence" (telogen). Given that HF cycling abnormalities underlie many human hair growth disorders, the accurate classification of individual cycle stages within skin biopsies is clinically important and essential for hair research. For preclinical human hair research purposes, human scalp skin can bexenografted onto immunocompromised mice tostudy human HF cyclingandmanipulate long-lasting anagen in vivo. Although available for mice, a comprehensive guide on how to recognize different human hair cycle stages in vivo is lacking. In this article, we present such a guide, which uses objective, well-defined, and reproducible criteria, and integrates simple morphological indicators with advanced, (immuno)-histochemical markers. This guide also characterizes human HF cycling in xenografts and highlights the utility of this model for in vivo hair research. Detailed schematic drawings and representative micrographs provide examples of how best to identify human HF stages, even in suboptimally sectioned tissue, and practical recommendations are given for designing human-on-mouse hair cycle experiments. Thus, this guide seeks to offer a benchmark for human hair cycle stage classification, for both hair research experts and newcomers to the field.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)34-44
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.2016

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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