Introduction: Hair follicles are produced in a cyclical manner and the machinery involved in the reproduction of these follicles is present since the fetal stage. Although extensive research has been done on the human hair follicle, very little is known about the importance of adhesion molecules in its development.
Material and methods: We analyzed here, the immunoexpression of beta-1 integrin, p-cadherin, e-cadherin, and beta-catenin in hair follicles from 26 formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded skin samples from human embryos and fetus between 12-23 weeks of gestational age.
Results: The adhesion molecules beta-1 integrin and e-cadherin/p-cadherin were expressed from 12 weeks and seemed to play a role in regulating epidermis invagination. Beta-catenin immunostaining was negative in all cases; down regulation of this protein may be necessary for fetal hair development and thus facilitating hair follicle down growth.
Discussion/conclusion: Adhesion molecules are essential for hair follicle down growth and proliferation; integrins and cadherins play a major role in this process. More studies are needed to describe hair follicle development.
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