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A novel method for histological examination of hair follicles


Intact and healthy hair follicles are important for hair growth after hair follicle transplantation. However, effective and practical evaluation methods for the quality of hair follicles are currently lacking. In the present study, we developed a novel fast staining method for histological examination of hair follicles. The whisker follicles from mice were used to explore the staining protocols, and the final protocol for the evaluation of human hair follicles was derived from animal experiments. After extraction, human hair follicles or mouse whisker follicles were permeabilized with 0.3% Triton X-100. Subsequently, hair follicles were processed by either hematoxylin or alkaline phosphatase staining. The integrity and growth state, including the status of hair follicle stem cells and blood vessels of the extracted hair follicles, were clearly identified under a light microscope. Unhealthy hair follicles from donors or hair follicles broken during extraction were easily revealed by this method. Importantly, it took less than half an hour to obtain images of an individual hair follicle. This method is simple and practical for evaluating the quality and status of hair follicles, providing a fast-screening procedure for hair follicle transplantation.

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The authors thank Yuan Ma and Hongli Zhang for collecting and processing the follicles. Fang Nan’s technical assistance in histological staining was well appreciated. The authors also thank Dr. Jeffery N. Harding for language editing. This study was supported by West China Hospital, Sichuan University.

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YJK conceptualized the idea of fast staining for hair follicles. All authors participated in the design of the experiments, interpretation of the results, and review of the manuscript. XM, LZ, and KW carried out the experiments, and XM and XD analyzed the data. XM and YX wrote the first draft of the manuscript. YJK edited the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Y. James Kang.

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Meng, X., Zheng, L., Xiao, Y. et al. A novel method for histological examination of hair follicles. Histochem Cell Biol 158, 39–48 (2022).

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  • Hair follicles
  • Hair follicle stem cells
  • Blood vessels
  • Hematoxylin staining
  • Alkaline phosphatase staining