Background: Hypertrichosis or alopecia of the eyelashes is associated with various diseases or may be drug induced. Although neither increase nor loss of eyelashes is life threatening, eyelash disorders can be psychologically disturbing. However, as control of eyelash growth and the underlying mechanisms of eyelash hypo- or hypertrichosis are largely obscure, available therapy is limited.
Objectives: To improve this situation, we sought to establish a pragmatic, well-defined mouse model for the study and pharmacological investigation of eyelash follicle biology.
Methods: We took a morphometric approach to establish an eyelash model using female C57BL/6J mice by comparing with pelage hairs and highlighting the differences. We next applied a hypertrichosis-triggering agent and investigated its effect using the model.
Results: In eyelashes, a synchronized growth cycle was observed after morphogenesis but was completed earlier than pelage hairs. Exogen was strictly regulated and occurred in every cycle in the eyelash. Otherwise, general morphological features of mouse eyelashes (shafts, follicles, morphogenesis and growth cycle) were comparable with those of pelage hairs. The eyelash growth-stimulatory agent in humans, bimatoprost, significantly extended the duration of anagen, resulting in more and longer eyelashes, but there was no evidence of follicle neogenesis.
Conclusions: This study shows that mouse eyelashes offer an excellent in vivo model for the quantitative and qualitative analysis of eyelash morphology, development, growth cycle, exogen and pharmacological modulation. This model will help to elucidate the unknown molecular controls of eyelash growth, and to develop novel drugs to treat eyelash disorders.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2010 British Association of Dermatologists.