Original Article

Stem cells from human hair follicles: first mechanical isolation for immediate autologous clinical use in androgenetic alopecia and hair loss

Pietro Gentile, Maria G. Scioli, Alessandra Bielli, Augusto Orlandi, Valerio Cervelli


Background: Hair follicles are known to contain a well-characterized niche for adult stem cells: the bulge, which contains epithelial and melanocytic stem cells. Stem cells in the hair bulge, a clearly demarcated structure within the lower permanent portion of hair follicles, can generate the interfollicular epidermis, hair follicle structures, and sebaceous glands. The bulge epithelial stem cells can also reconstitute in an artificial in vivo system to a new hair follicle.
Methods: In this study, we have developed a new method to isolate human adult stem cells by mechanical centrifugation of punch biopsy from human hair follicles without culture condition. Here, we used human follicle stem cells (HFSCs), to improve the hair density in 11 patients (38 to 61 years old) affected by AGA in stage 3–5 as determined by the Norwood-Hamilton classification scale.
Results: The primary outcomes were microscopic identification and counting of HFSCs. The secondary outcomes were clinical preliminary results and safety and feasibility in HFSCs-treated scalp. Each scalp tissue suspension contained about 3,728.5±664.5 cells. The percentage of hair follicle-derived mesenchymal stem cells CD44+ [from dermal papilla (DP)] was about 5%+0.7% whereas the percentage of hair follicle epithelial stem cells CD200+ (from the bulge) was about 2.6%+0.3%. In total, 23 weeks after the last treatment with HFSCs mean hair count and hair density increases over baseline values. In particular, a 29%±5% increase in hair density for the treated area and less than a 1% increase in hair density for the placebo area.
Conclusions: We have shown that the isolated cells are capable to improve the hair density in patients affected by androgenetic alopecia (AGA). These cells appear to be located in the bulge area of human.

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