Stem cell factor-KIT signalling plays a pivotal role in regulating pigmentation in mammalian hair.J Pathol. 2009 May; 218(1):30-9.JP
Hair greying is one of the most distinct but least comprehended features of senescence. The signalling of stem cell factor (SCF) and its receptor KIT has been documented to regulate essential roles in the maintenance of embryonic melanocyte lineages and postnatal cutaneous melanogenesis, although little is known about its detailed mechanisms in postnatal hair pigmentation. To address this, anagen human hair follicles and C57BL/6 murine pelage were analysed in this study. Molecular biological analyses of murine follicular skin indicated a significant increase of membrane-bound SCF expression, reaching its peak 8-16 days after anagen induction in concert with the escalation of cutaneous tyrosinase activity and corresponding pigmentation. Administration of KIT-neutralizing antibody abolished MITF and tyrosinase expressions, resulting in a reversible hair depigmentation in murine regenerated hair and human hair organ culture. Quantitative RT-PCR of human hair follicles indicated that KIT expression as well as the expression of several melanogenic factors, including MITF, was significantly lower in unpigmented than in pigmented follicles. Taken together, these data revealed a pivotal role of SCF-KIT signalling in the maintenance of human hair follicle melanogenesis during the anagen cycle and its involvement in physiological ageing of the hair follicle pigmentary unit.