In this review, we propose that telomere length dynamics play an important but underinvestigated role in the biology of the hair follicle (HF), a prototypic, cyclically remodeled miniorgan that shows an intriguing aging pattern in humans. Whereas the HF pigmentary unit ages quickly, its epithelial stem cell (ESC) component and regenerative capacity are surprisingly aging resistant. Telomerase-deficient mice with short telomeres display an aging phenotype of hair graying and hair loss that is attributed to impaired HF ESC mobilization. Yet, it remains unclear whether the function of telomerase and telomeres in murine HF biology translate to the human system. Therefore, we propose new directions for future telomere research of the human HF. Such research may guide the development of novel treatments for selected disorders of human hair growth or pigmentation (e.g., chemotherapy-induced alopecia, telogen effluvium, androgenetic alopecia, cicatricial alopecia, graying). It might also increase the understanding of the global role of telomeres in aging-related human disease.
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