Interleukin-6 cytokine family member oncostatin M is a hair-follicle-expressed factor with hair growth inhibitory properties

Exp Dermatol. 2008 Jan;17(1):12-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0625.2007.00643.x. Epub 2007 Nov 2.


The activation of receptor complexes containing glycoprotein 130 (gp130) identifies the interleukin (IL)-6 cytokine family. We examined members of this family for their expression and activity in hair follicles. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction using mRNA derived from microdissected, anagen-stage human hair follicles and comparison to non-follicular skin epithelium revealed higher levels of IL-6 (15.5-fold) and oncostatin M (OSM, 3.4-fold) in hair follicles. In contrast, expression of all mRNAs coding for IL-6 cytokine family receptors was reduced. Immunohistology suggested expression of OSM, gp130, leukaemia inhibitory factor receptor (LIFr) and IL-11r in the hair follicle root sheaths and dermal papilla, while IL-11, IL-6r and OSMr were expressed in root sheaths alone. IL-6 was expressed in the dermal papilla while cardiotrophin-1 (CT-1) and LIF were not observed. OSM and to a lesser extent CT-1 exhibited a dose-dependent growth inhibition capacity on human hair follicles in vitro. OSM and CT-1 incubated with agarose beads and injected subcutaneously at 1 mug per mouse into telogen skin of 65-day-old mice revealed no capacity to induce anagen hair growth. In contrast, injection of 65-day-old mice in which anagen had been induced by hair plucking revealed a moderate hair growth inhibitory capacity for OSM, but no significant effect for CT-1. The data identify OSM as a modulator of hair follicle growth and suggest other family members may also have some degree of hair growth inhibitory effect. In principle, increased expression of some IL-6 cytokine family members in cutaneous inflammation might contribute to the promotion of hair loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alopecia / metabolism
  • Alopecia / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokine Receptor gp130 / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Cytokines / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Hair Follicle / growth & development*
  • Hair Follicle / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Leukemia Inhibitory Factor / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Middle Aged
  • Oncostatin M / metabolism*
  • Skin / cytology
  • Skin / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-6
  • Leukemia Inhibitory Factor
  • Oncostatin M
  • Cytokine Receptor gp130
  • cardiotrophin 1