International Journal of Trichology

: 2011  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 11-

Session D: The Hair Follicle – Part I


Correspondence Address:

How to cite this article:
. Session D: The Hair Follicle – Part I.Int J Trichol 2011;3:11-11

How to cite this URL:
. Session D: The Hair Follicle – Part I. Int J Trichol [serial online] 2011 [cited 2021 Dec 6 ];3:11-11
Available from:

Full Text

The Hair Follicle Melanocyte - A reporter cell for some of the hair follicle's 'wows and woes'

Desmond J. Tobin

Center for Skin Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Bradford, Great Britain.

E-mail: [email protected]

The hair follicle is finally shedding its Cinderella status, and this unique epithelial-mesenchymal-neuroectodermal mini-organ is now at the vanguard of modern biomedical science. Our interest in hair pigmentation today sits alongside the phylogenetically-ancient biochemical process of melanogenesis that underpins it. Humans display a rich and very varied palette of hair color ranging from vivid reds and sun-bleached blondes to sober browns, raven blacks and with age alas to steel grays and snowy whites. Not surprising then that hair color remains a powerful signal in social/sexual communication. During this 2011, Ebling Lecture I will focus on what makes hair pigmentation such a fascinating subject for study, currently pursued by geneticists, anthropologists, polymer/forensic chemists, biologists, physicists etc. Of particular interest for us is the plasticity of hair follicle melanocytes differentiation states, as well as how these neural crest-derived cells age. I will also describe how melanocyte subpopulations differ in terms of their constitutive and facultative status, for example when located in UV-exposed epidermis versus in the cycling hair follicle. This is relevant not only for our aesthetic appearance, but also provides insights into clinical conditions such as vitiligo, alopecia areata and melanoma. While hormone responsiveness of hair follicles is well known, only recently have we seen how the hair follicle's neuroendocrine axes may participate in hair pigmentation, as well as what this may mean for the relatedness of melanocytes with neural cells and in turn the latter's aging in neurodegenerative diseases. This talk will provide a little something for everyone interested in hair sciences.