Detailed information about hair follicle structure and their utility

Hair Follicles & Their Utility

Hair follicle cells

The best thing about hair is that it is completely renewable without causing any trouble to the body. In fact, hair follicles go through a growth cycle comprising three stages between taking birth and eventual shedding. The three stages of this hair growth cycle are; anagen - the hair growing phase; catagen - the intermediate phase; and telogen - the hair shedding phase. The anagen phase witnesses very active growth in the hair bulb, the catagen phase is the regressive phase, and the telogen phase is a resting phase when the hair follicle is inactive.

This hair follicle keeps on producing hair throughout an individual’s life. The average production rate of a follicle is between 10 and 20 hairs during this period. Each scalp hair grows for between 2 and 6 years before falling out to be replaced by a new hair.

But what goes on inside a hair follicle which imparts it such a renewable property? Welcome to, where you will get a detailed description of hair and hair follicle formation at the cellular and molecular level!

Using hair follicle cells to treat baldness

Hair follicles have an almost unique regenerative capacity as seen in their regular hair growth cycling. This regenerative ability is due in part to stem cells. To summarize, it is the hair follicle epithelial stem cells that divide and produce new hair follicle cells in each growth cycle. They do so induced by ‘inductive’ dermal cells.

This property of hair follicle cells is being developed as a new form of treatment for many forms of hair loss including pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia), scarring alopecia, and alopecia from burns and trauma. The technique involves taking hair follicle cells, culturing them, and implanting them to areas of bald scalp to induce new hair follicles to form. Sometimes this procedure is mistakenly called “hair cloning” (it has nothing to do with cloning). It is also called hair multiplication, follicular neogenesis, hair replication, and hair rejuvenation. Whatever you want to call it, provides information on how cells from the hair follicle can be used as a treatment for hair loss.

Using hair follicle cells to treat other diseases

Now these follicular stem cells - being stem cells - display such high level of plasticity that they can be used after isolation and proper culture (i.e. bioengineering) to replace or repair other damaged cells beyond hair follicles. These adult stem cells have the potential to treat cell related diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease and even paralysis. All this is quite theoretical in nature, but spectacular progress has been made in understanding the role of these follicular stem cells into making new follicles and exploiting them through bioengineering to play other roles.

For a clearer understanding of this very complex yet engaging and potential ”miracle making” issue this website is divided into three parts:

Section 1 - Hair biology

This section reviews the anatomy of human hair right down to the cellular level. This section starts with discussing the major parts of the hair, goes on to describe the different growth cycles, and last but not least, describes how a new hair or follicle gets made by division of cells. Not only that, it describes the scope of follicular stem cells to be exploited in regenerative medicine. There are several articles in this section:

Section 2 - Hair replication

While first section establishes that follicular cells are much more than simple cells besides explaining the working of hair producing factory called the hair follicle, this section throws light on how these follicular stem cells can be bioengineered to be used in treating alopecia and other kinds of baldness by implanting them into the bald scalp. There are several articles in this section:

Section 3 - Hair follicle cell manipulation

While second section is about bioengineering the follicular stem cells to be used in treating the hair loss, this section talks about the immense potential of these cells to be used in treating other cell related diseases such as cancer, nerve loss, Parkinson’s disease etc. This section contains a few articles: