Improved method of differentiation, selection and amplification of human melanocytes from the hair follicle cell pool

Exp Dermatol. 2012 Dec;21(12):948-50. doi: 10.1111/exd.12038.


Hair root harbours a complex cell pool with an immense developmental potential. Several lineages, including skin, can be differentiated from the multipotent to pluripotent cells of outer root sheath (ORS) of hair follicle. Outer root sheath presents the most opulent non-invasively gained adult stem cell source known. For the purposes of cultivating melanocytes designated for graft-based treatments of depigmentation disorders, we have established an ex vivo/in vitro cultivation method by introducing several methodological improvements to the ORS explant method of Dieckmann. As a result, we gained a higher, purer yield of differentiated melanocytes in half the time (at least 10(6) of 95% pure cells in 4 weeks). This reliable cultivation procedure begins with the epilation of 60 hairs and yields high numbers of ORS melanocytes that could be used for grafting applications. The procedure not only utilises the developmental potential of hair root cell pool and favors differentiation into melanocytes, but also contributes to the general trend of minimal-to-non-invasive strategies for regenerative medicine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation / methods
  • Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Dermatology / methods
  • Hair Follicle / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Melanocytes / cytology*
  • Melanocytes / transplantation*
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Regenerative Medicine / methods
  • Vitiligo / pathology
  • Vitiligo / therapy*