NOV 05, 2019 06:50 AM PST

Understanding How Skin Regeneration is Controlled

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Our skin is a critical protective barrier and has to constantly replenish and repair itself after damage or just normal wear and tear. Reservoirs of stem cells are peppered throughout the skin. They sit inside of little supportive niches that keep their restorative capabilities under tight control; if cells begin to reproduce uncontrollably, it can lead to serious problems including cancer. But there also has to be enough replenishment so that aging isn’t accelerated.

Growing hair follicles. / Credit/Copyright: Robin Chemers Neustein Laboratory of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development at The Rockefeller University

Researchers have not known whether these stem cells are able to signal to other stem cells to create new skin by altering these niche microenvironments, until now. Reporting in Science, a team of investigators led by Elaine Fuchs, the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor at Rockefeller University has found that stem cells are indeed able to influence other cells, and the regeneration of tissue. They identified a molecular mechanism that stem cells use to communicate across niches.

The research team also found a newly discovered part of the niche called lymphatic capillaries. They are a special kind of vessel that forms of network around the stem cell niche that sits in every hair follicle, and connects all of them. Immune cells can move through these lymphatic capillaries, and excess toxins and fluids can drain out.  

In this work, the researchers used a technique that enabled them to see through the skin. "By turning the skin completely transparent, we were able to reveal the complex architecture of this network of tubes," explained the first author of the study, postdoctoral fellow Shiri Gur-Cohen.

Stem cells in the hair follicles help regulate the action of lymphatic capillaries be releasing molecules that can turn the drainage on or off. This allows for the control of how the fluids and cells are composed in the microenvironment, and syncs regeneration in the skin tissue.

"The involvement of the lymphatic system in this process is a new concept," noted Fuchs, "and might potentially provide new therapeutic targets for lymph-related conditions such as wound-healing defects and hair loss."

Learn more about the research of Dr. Fuchs from the recent lecture she delivered at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via Rockefeller University, Science

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
NOV 21, 2019
Neuroscience
NOV 21, 2019
Do Mirror Neurons Help Us Feel Empathy?
In 2000, prominent neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran wrote that mirror neurons would do for psychology what DNA did for biology (Ramachandran: 2000). Altho...
NOV 21, 2019
Immunology
NOV 21, 2019
Researchers Identify Pair of "Recruiters" that Pull T Cells to the Lungs
How do CD8 T cells make it to the lungs to help in the fight against infection? Why don’t T cells remain longer in the lungs? How can science optimiz...
NOV 21, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 21, 2019
A More Precise Version of CRISPR/Cas9 is Created
A more accurate version of Cas9 has been created, reducing the number of off-target effects. It may be better suited for use in gene therapy....
NOV 21, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
NOV 21, 2019
Does Consciousness Come Down to One Kind of Neuron?
Our consciousness might trace back to a simple neurological link between two neural circuits....
NOV 21, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
NOV 21, 2019
Researchers Explore the Electricity-Conducting Power of Proteins
Researchers have known that proteins can insulate electrical flow, but their power as conductors has only recently been recognized....
NOV 21, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
NOV 21, 2019
Scientists Reveal a Link Between Brain Fog and Inflammation
When people get sick, they often also feel tired, which can be as troublesome as their disease....
Loading Comments...