Hair Follicle as a Source of Pigment-Producing Cells for Treatment of Vitiligo: An Alternative to Epidermis?

Abstract

To discuss the advantages and limitations of hair follicle-derived cell transplantation (FCT) in vitiligo, compared to the epidermal cell transplantation (ECT), and the knowledge gap which is required to be bridged. The papers relevant to the purpose was reviewed. Surgical approaches for treating vitiligo are based on the idea of replenishing lost melanocytes. Skin and hair follicles as the main sources of melanocytes have been applied for this purpose transferring the whole tissue or tissue-derived cell suspension to the vitiligo lesions. Considering the differences between hair follicle and epidermis in terms of the constituting cell populations, phenotype and function of melanocytes, and micro-environmental factors, different response of vitiligo patients to treatment with FCT or ECT would be expected theoretically. However, there is currently a lack of evidence on such a difference. However, ECT appears to be a more feasible, less time-consuming, and more comfortable treatment for both physicians and patients. Although the current evidence has not shown a significant difference between ECT and FCT in terms of efficacy, ECT appears to be more feasible specifically in the treatment of large lesions. However, further randomized controlled clinical trials with larger sample sizes and longer follow-up durations are required to be conducted to draw a definite conclusion on comparing FCT with ECT in terms of the safety, efficacy, durability of the therapeutic effects, and indications in vitiligo patients.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the patients and members of the Department of Regenerative Medicine, particularly Dr. Zahra Orouji, Fatemeh Vaezirad, Nasrin Fallah, Zahra Khalajasadi, and Dr. Parvaneh Mohammadi for their contribution to the unpublished clinical study on FCT in vitiligo at Royan Institute.

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Correspondence to Nasser Aghdami.

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Ghasemi, M., Bajouri, A., Shafiiyan, S. et al. Hair Follicle as a Source of Pigment-Producing Cells for Treatment of Vitiligo: An Alternative to Epidermis?. Tissue Eng Regen Med (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13770-020-00284-2

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Keywords

  • Vitiligo
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Cell therapy
  • Hair follicle
  • Melanocyte