A comprehensive guide for the recognition and classification of distinct stages of hair follicle morphogenesis

J Invest Dermatol. 1999 Oct;113(4):523-32. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.1999.00740.x.


Numerous spontaneous and experimentally induced mouse mutations develop a hair phenotype, which is often associated with more or less discrete abnormalities in hair follicle development. In order to recognize these, it is critically important to be able to determine and to classify accurately the major stages of normal murine hair follicle morphogenesis. As an aid, we propose a pragmatic and comprehensive guide, modified after previous suggestions by Hardy, and provide a list of easily recognizable classification criteria, illustrated by representative micrographs. Basic and more advanced criteria are distinguished, the former being applicable to all mouse strains and requiring only simple histologic stains (hematoxylin and eosin, Giemsa, periodic acid Schiff, alkaline phosphatase activity), the latter serving as auxiliary criteria, which require a pigmented mouse strain (like C57BL/6J) or immunohistochemistry (interleukin-1 receptor type I, transforming growth factor-beta receptor type II). In addition, we present simplified, computer-generated schematic drawings for the standardized recording and reporting of gene and antigen expression patterns during hair follicle development. This classification aid serves as a basic introduction into the field of hair follicle morphogenesis, aims at standardizing the presentation of related hair research data, and should become a useful tool when screening new mouse mutants for discrete abnormalities of hair follicle morphogenesis (compared with the respective wild type) in a highly reproducible, easily applicable, and quantifiable manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hair Follicle / embryology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Morphogenesis
  • Phenotype
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type II
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / analysis
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / analysis


  • Receptors, Interleukin-1
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type II