Epidermal label-retaining cells: background and recent applications

J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2004 Sep;9(3):196-201. doi: 10.1111/j.1087-0024.2004.09313.x.


Epidermal label-retaining cells (LRC) can be identified by giving neonatal mice repeated injections of 3H-thymidine or 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine and then finding the cells that are still labelled in adulthood. Although label retention is simply a marker of the proliferative history of a cell, there is, nevertheless, evidence that it is a characteristic of epidermal stem cells. Here we review the early literature on LRC and then highlight two recent applications. We describe how LRC can be visualized by whole-mount labelling of the epidermis and how purified LRC can be used to screen for markers of the epidermal stem cell compartment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epidermal Cells*
  • Epidermis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Thymidine / pharmacokinetics
  • Tritium


  • Tritium
  • Thymidine