Introduction to Hair-Follicle-Associated Pluripotent Stem Cells

  • Robert M. HoffmanEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1453)


Nestin-expressing stem cells of the hair follicle, discovered by our laboratory, have been shown to be able to form outer-root sheaths of the follicle as well as neurons and many other non-follicle cell types. We have termed the nestin-expressing stem cells of the hair follicle as hair-follicle-associated pluripotent (HAP) stem cells. We have shown that the HAP stem cells from the hair follicle can effect the repair of peripheral nerve and spinal cord injury. The hair follicle stem cells differentiate into neuronal and glial cells after transplantation to the injured peripheral nerve and spinal cord, and enhance injury repair and locomotor recovery. When the excised hair follicle with its nerve stump was placed in Gelfoam® 3D histoculture, HAP stem cells grew and extended the hair follicle nerve which consisted of βIII-tubulin-positive fibers with F-actin expression at the tip. These findings indicate that βIII-tubulin-positive fibers elongating from the whisker follicle sensory nerve stump were growing axons. The growing whisker sensory nerve was highly enriched in HAP stem cells, which appeared to play a major role in its elongation and interaction with other nerves in 3D Gelfoam® histoculture, including the sciatic nerve, the trigeminal nerve, and the trigeminal nerve ganglion. These results suggest that a major function of the HAP stem cells in the hair follicle is for growth of the follicle sensory nerve. Recently, we have shown that HAP stem cells can differentiate into beating cardiac muscle cells. HAP stem cells have critical advantages for regenerative medicine over embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in that they are highly accessible from each patient, thereby eliminating immunological issues since they are autologous, require no genetic manipulation, are non-tumorigenic, and do not present ethical issues.

Key words

Hair follicle Bulge Nestin Pluripotent Stem cells GFP Neurons Schwann cells Sciatic nerve Spinal cord repair Cardiac muscle cells 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AntiCancer, Inc.San DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryUniversity of California, San DiegoSan DiegoUSA

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