Multipotent adult stem cells have many potential therapeutic applications. Our recent findings suggest that hair follicles are a promising source of easily accessible multipotent stem cells. Stem cells in the hair follicle area express the neural stem cell marker nestin, suggesting that hair-follicle stem cells and neural stem cells have common features. Nestin-expressing hair follicle stem cells can form neurons and other cell types, and thus adult hair follicle stem cells could have important therapeutic applications, particularly for neurologic diseases. Transplanted hair follicle stem cells promote the functional recovery of injured peripheral nerve and spinal cord. Recent findings suggest that direct transplantation of hair-follicle stem cells without culture can promote nerve repair, which makes them potentially clinically practical. Human hair follicle stem cells as well as mouse hair follicle stem cells promote nerve repair and can be applied to test the hypothesis that human hair follicle stem cells can provide a readily available source of neurologically therapeutic stem cells. The use of hair follicle stem cells for nerve regeneration overcomes critical problems of embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells in that the hair follicle stem cells are multipotent, readily accessible, non-oncogenic, and are not associated with ethical issues.
Copyright © 2010 Japanese Society for Investigative Dermatology. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.