Proteinases and their inhibitors are very likely to function as mediators or regulators of the hair growth cycle. Very little information is currently available, however, regarding the specific inhibitors present in human hair follicles at defined stages of their growth cycle. In this study we have analyzed two proteinase inhibitors, plasminogen activator inhibitor type 2 and protease nexin 1, in human hair follicles using in situ hybridization and/or immunohistochemistry. Protease nexin 1 mRNA was found only in the mesenchymal population of the hair follicle, i.e., the follicular papilla cells, during the anagen but not the catagen phase. In contrast, plasminogen activator inhibitor type 2 was localized to several epithelial populations in the follicle: the more differentiated cells of the infundibulum; the companion layer in anagen follicles; and the single layer of outer root sheath cells directly abutting the club hair in telogen follicles. At least some of the plasminogen activator inhibitor type 2 in human follicles appears to be in the relaxed form, as evidenced by strong staining with an antibody that is specific for this form of the inhibitor. This suggests that plasminogen activator inhibitor type 2 interacts with and is cleaved by an endogenous follicular proteinase and supports a constitutive role for this inhibitor in human follicular epithelia.
- Follicular epithelial differentiation
- Follicular papilla
- Plasminogen activator inhibitor type 2
- Programmed cell death
- Protease nexin-1