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Comparison between the expression of basement membrane zone antigens of human interfollicular epidermis and anagen hair follicle using indirect immunofluorescence

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Background The composition of the basement membrane zone (BMZ) or dermal–epidermal junction in the interfollicular skin has been well documented. However, little is known about the BMZ or connective tissue–epithelial junction along the hair follicle. Objectives 

To determine whether the BMZ antigens in the interfollicular epidermis are also present in the BMZ of the anagen hair follicle and to compare whether the expression and distribution of the BMZ components vary between the interfollicular epidermis and the anagen follicle and within different regions of the hair follicle. Methods 

Longitudinal cryostat sections of scalp margin specimens from four adult patients undergoing cosmetic surgery, and without known pathology were stained with a panel of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies to different BMZ constituents using standard indirect immunofluorescence. Results 

All the BMZ antigens found in the normal interfollicular epidermis were expressed in the anagen follicle; however, there were regional variations in the intensity and patterns of fluorescence. All the antigens were expressed in a continuous linear pattern along the BMZ of the interfollicular skin, the infundibulum, and the middle part of the hair follicle. Differences were observed in the lower follicle and the hair bulb. There was continuous expression throughout the BMZ of the follicle of laminin-1 and collagen IV, but in contrast, expression of other antigens decreased down the lower follicle. There was weak or even negative staining with antibodies to α6β4 integrin, laminin-5, anchoring filaments, and type VII collagen in the outer aspect of the bulb compared with the hair papilla. In addition, there were special patterns observed along the bilateral middle and lower follicle. Conclusions 

Despite the common embryological origin between the interfollicular epidermis and the hair follicle, there is variation in the expression of the BMZ antigens. This may be explained by the histological specialization and functional requirements that reflect the dynamic hair growth cycle.
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Keywords: anagen hair follicle; basement membrane zone; connective tissue–epithelial junction; dermal papilla; dermal–epidermal junction; hair papilla

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Dermatology, The Churchill, Oxford Radcliffe Hospital, Old Road, Headington, Oxford OX3 7LJ, U.K.

Publication date: 2003-08-01

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