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The human hair follicle is a complex three-dimensional structure, and little is known about the control of growth or differentiation in this tissue. The base of the follicle is divided into two compartments: (1) the keratinocytes of the hair matrix and (2) the dermal papilla, which consists of fibroblasts and often a microvascular system. The dermal papilla exerts a strong influence on the behavior of the follicle keratinocytes. The keratinocytes in an anagen follicle cycle rapidly and migrate upward to form the hair fiber and inner root sheath. These cells thus express up to seven different differentiated phenotypes, yet we know nothing about how this is controlled or how the cells migrate into each layer.
An approach that has proved fruitful in other systems has been to define the rates of proliferation in different parts of the tissue. This can lead to identifying which cells are targets for growth regulation and provide information on how proliferation and differentiation are coordinated. One must understand the limitations of the techniques and know what can be derived from resultant data. Cell kinetics is an area where techniques are often misapplied or the results misinterpreted.
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© 1988 Published by Elsevier Inc.