Stem cells from the adult hair follicle bulge can differentiate into neurons and glia, which is advantageous for the development of an autologous cell-based therapy for neurological diseases. Consequently, bulge stem cells from plucked hair may increase opportunities for personalized neuroregenerative therapy. Hairs were plucked from the scalps of healthy donors, and the bulges were cultured without prior tissue treatment. Shortly after outgrowth from the bulge, cellular protein expression was established immunohistochemically. The doubling time was calculated upon expansion, and the viability of expanded, cryopreserved cells was assessed after shear stress. The neuroglial differentiation potential was assessed from cryopreserved cells. Shortly after outgrowth, the cells were immunopositive for nestin, SLUG, AP-2α and SOX9, and negative for SOX10. Each bulge yielded approximately 1 × 104 cells after three passages. Doubling time was 3.3 (±1.5) days. Cellular viability did not differ significantly from control cells after shear stress. The cells expressed class III β-tubulin (TUBB3) and synapsin-1 after 3 weeks of neuronal differentiation. Glial differentiation yielded KROX20- and MPZ-immunopositive cells after 2 weeks. We demonstrated that human hair follicle bulge-derived stem cells can be cultivated easily, expanded efficiently and kept frozen until needed. After cryopreservation, the cells were viable and displayed both neuronal and glial differentiation potential.

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Department of Dermatology

Gho, C., Schomann, T., de Groot, S. C., Frijns, J., Rivolta, M., Neumann, M., & Huisman, M. A. (2016). Isolation, expansion and neural differentiation of stem cells from human plucked hair: a further step towards autologous nerve recovery. Cytotechnology, 68(5), 1849–1858. doi:10.1007/s10616-015-9938-x