European Journal of Dermatology


The hair follicle as a target for gene therapy Volume 11, issue 4, July - August 2001


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Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

The hair follicle possesses progenitor cells for continued hair follicle cycling and for epidermal keratinocytes, melanocytes and Langerhans cells. These different cell types can be targeted by topical gene delivery to mouse skin. Using a combination of liposomes and DNA, we demonstrated the feasibility of targeting hair follicle cells in human scalp xenografts as well. We defined liposome composition and stage of the hair cycle as important parameters influencing transfection of human hair follicles. Transfection occurred only during anagen onset. Considerations and obstacles for using gene therapy to treat alopecias and skin disease are discussed. A theoretical framework for future gene therapy treatments for cutaneous and systemic disorders is presented.