Background Current noncultured cell-based transplantation therapies for vitiligo largely involve shave skin biopsy for preparation of noncultured melanocyte suspension. As the overall proportion of melanocytes is low in the epidermis, these techniques require basal cell layer enrichment, which adds additional steps. We tried follicular unit extraction (FUE) to harvest hair follicles as a source of melanocytes.
Objectives To evaluate the efficacy of a novel surgical method for vitiligo: noncultured extracted hair follicular outer root sheath (ORS) cell suspension transplantation.
Methods Fourteen patients with vitiligo, stable for at least 3 months, were included in this prospective study. Fifteen to 25 hair follicles were extracted from occipital scalp using the FUE method. Hair follicles were incubated with trypsin–ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid solution at 37 °C for 90 min to separate ORS cells. The cell suspension was filtered through a 70-μm cell strainer, then centrifuged for 5 min at 1000 r.p.m. to obtain a cell pellet. The pellet was resuspended and applied to the dermabraded recipient area and dressed.
Results The mean ± SD repigmentation was 65·7 ± 36·7%. Overall, nine of 14 patients achieved > 75% repigmentation. Mean percentage repigmentation was significantly higher in patients with ≥ 1 year stability than those with < 1 year stability (P = 0·02).
Conclusions Extracted hair follicular ORS cell suspension can be a useful simplified transplantation method for vitiligo. The transplantation procedure should be reserved for patients with vitiligo stable for at least 1 year. A larger study is needed for further evaluation.