The bulge area is the origin of nestin-expressing pluripotent stem cells of the hair follicle



Nestin-expressing pluripotent stem cells have been found both in the bulge area (BA) as well as the dermal papilla (DP). Nestin-expressing stem cells of both the BA and DP have been previously shown to be able to form neurons and other non-follicle cell types. The nestin-expressing stem cells from the DP have been termed skin precursor or SKP cells. Both nestin-expressing DP and BA cells have been previously shown to effect repair of the injured spinal cord and peripheral nerve, with the BA being the greater and more constant source of the stem cells. The BA contains nestin-expressing stem cells throughout the hair cycle, whereas nestin-expressing dermal papillae stem cells were found in early and mid-anagen only. Our previous studies have shown that the nestin-expressing stem cells in the BA and DP have similar morphological features. The cells from both regions have a small body diameter of approximately 7 µm with long extrusions, as shown by 2-photon imaging. In the present study, using 2-photon imaging of whisker follicles from transgenic mice expressing nestin-driven green fluorescent protein (ND-GFP), we demonstrate that the BA is the source of the nestin-expressing stem cells of the hair follicle. The nestin-expressing stem cells migrate from the BA to the DP as well as into the surrounding skin tissues including the epidermis, and during wound healing, suggesting that the BA may be the source of the stem cells of the skin itself. J. Cell. Biochem. 112: 2046–2050, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.