Hair follicle stem cells: Walking the maze

Stephan Tiede, Jennifer E. Kloepper, Enikö Bodò, Sanjay Tiwari, Charli Kruse, Ralf Paus*

*Corresponding author for this work
147 Citations (Scopus)


The discovery of epithelial stem cells (eSCs) in the bulge region of the outer root sheath of hair follicles in mice and man has encouraged research into utilizing the hair follicle as a therapeutic source of stem cells (SCs) for regenerative medicine, and has called attention to the hair follicle as a highly instructive model system for SC biology. Under physiological circumstances, bulge eSCs serve as cell pool for the cyclic regeneration of the anagen hair bulb, while they can also regenerate the sebaceous gland and the epidermis after injury. More recently, melanocyte SCs, nestin+, mesenchymal and additional, as yet ill-defined "stem cell" populations, have also been identified in or immediately adjacent to the hair follicle epithelium, including in the specialized hair follicle mesenchyme (connective tissue sheath), which is crucial to wound healing. Thus the hair follicle and its adjacent tissue environment contain unipotent, multipotent, and possibly even pluripotent SC populations of different developmental origin. It provides an ideal model system for the study of central issues in SC biology such as plasticity and SC niches, and for the identification of reliable, specific SC markers, which distinguish them from their immediate progeny (e.g. transient amplifying cells). The current review attempts to provide some guidance in this growing maze of hair follicle-associated SCs and their progeny, critically reviews potential or claimed hair follicle SC markers, highlights related differences between murine and human hair follicles, and defines major unanswered questions in this rapidly advancing field.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Cell Biology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)355-376
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 27.07.2007

Research Areas and Centers

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Hair follicle stem cells: Walking the maze'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this