Study sheds light on regulation of hair growth across the entire body

To paraphrase the classic poem, no hair is an island entire of itself.

Instead, University of California, Irvine scientists have discovered that all hairs can communicate with each other and grow in coordination across the entire body. This is regulated by a single molecular mechanism that adjusts by skin region to ensure efficient hair growth -- so no bald patches form -- and enable distinct hair densities in different body areas.

In animals, this regulatory process is important for survival in the wild. In humans, these findings could lead to new ways of addressing both balding and unwanted hair growth -- and further understanding of how regions of faster and slower regeneration work in coordination in other fast-renewing tissues, such as the intestines and bone marrow.

For the study, the researchers used the first mouse model of poor hair growth to analyze human-like hair behavior that leads to baldness. Their results appear in eLife, an open-access journal focusing on the life and biomedical sciences. UCI's Maksim Plikus, assistant professor of developmental & cell biology, and Qing Nie, professor of mathematics, led the effort. Ji Won Oh from Plikus' lab and Qixuan Wang from Nie's lab contributed equally to this work.

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