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Durham University

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Johnson, Simeon, Cowley, Kevin, Hawkins, Timothy J. & Määttä, Arto (2019). Pulling force deforms hair follicle root sheath nuclei and surrounding dermal collagen matrix differently at infundibulum, isthmus and suprabulbar regions. Experimental Dermatology 28(7): 862-866.

Author(s) from Durham


The biomechanical properties of the collagenous dermal matrix are well described but responses to mechanical force by the hair follicles have not been characterised so far. We applied a pulling force on hair follicles to visualise and quantify changes in the keratin‐14 and involucrin positive cell layers of the follicles using nuclear dimensions as an indicator of tissue deformation. Moreover, we used second harmonic generation imaging to visualise changes in the dermal collagen. We report how the anatomical regions of the follicle respond to the force. Nuclei of the isthmus region were most affected. The nuclei in both K14 positive outer root sheath cells and in involucrin positive cells were significantly compressed, whereas the response in the infundibulum and suprabulbar regions was more variable. The deformation of the nuclei did not correlate with lamin A/C expression. The changes in the collagenous matrix were distinct at different depths of the dermis as collagen fibrils were compressed closer to each other in the region adjacent to upper suprabulbar follicle and pulled apart near the infundibulum. Thus, the responses to the force are locally defined and the cells in the permanent and cycling parts of the follicle behave differently.