BACKGROUND: Among constituents of the skin, hair follicle is an organ where nerve fibers with the most highest density are distributed. Recently, it has been reported that neuropeptides, which are secreted by nerve fibers, have important roles in the hair growth and hair cycle change, and that, the expression of various growth factors and apoptosis-related molecules are important in the hair growth and hair cycle change. Therefore, it was thought of import to analyse the relationship between the effect of neuropeptides and the expression of various factors to control hair growth in the hair follicle and hair follicle cells. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the effect of neuropeptides and the expression of various hair growth-related factors at the level of hair follicle after pretreatment of cultured hair follicles and dermal papilla cells with SP. METHODS: Normal human scalp samples were obtained, and anagen hair follicles and dermal papilla cells were isolated and were cultured in Dulbeco's Modified Eagle's Medium (DMEM) with several combination of supplements in an atmosphere of 5% CO2/95% air incubator. We divided the culture plates into two groups; i.e. control group (DMEM only) and SP group (10-6M SP dissolved in DMEM). The results were evaluated by measuring linear hair growth and hair follicle morphology under a light microscope. Also, after pretreatment of cultured hair follicle and dermal papilla cells with SP, we examined changes of expression of hair growth factors (FGF-7, IGF-1, VEGF), hair growth-inhibitory factors (IL-1alpha, IL-1beta), and apoptosis-related molecules (p53, caspase-3). RESULTS: The following results were obtained. 1. SP did not have any statistically significant effect on the rate of linear hair growth in cultured hair follicles. However, it prolonged the anagen stage of hair cycle. 2. In hair follicles, the expression of FGF-7, a hair growth factor, was increased more than control, while the expression of caspase-3, an apoptosis-related molecule, was decreased more than control. Also, morphological changes as well as the changes of expression of hair growth factors and apoptosis-related molecules were not found in dermal papilla cells. However, the expression of IL-1beta, a hair growth-inhibitory factor, was decreased more than control. CONCLUSION: We can conclude from the results that SP has growth-stimulatory effect and especially prolongs the duration of anagen phase without affecting the rate of linear hair growth. Also, in hair follicles and dermal papilla cells, SP shows hair growth-stimulatory effect at the molecular levels.
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