In a recent paper, researchers have identified a potential target for treatment of alopecia, a autoimmune disorder whereby the immune system attacks the hair follicles resulting in hair loss (Figure 1). They were able to describe how regulatory T cells communicate via hormones and interact with skin cells, generating new hair follicles and promoting hair growth (READ MORE).
In this present study, the researchers investigated the function of regulatory T cells and the glucocorticoid receptors (GR) in skin tissue. They were able to describe the mechanism by which GR’s interact with T cells to activate hair follicle stem cells, this being done through the production of TGF-beta3 in regulatory T cells. In conventional treatments of alopecia, glucocorticoids are used to inhibit the immune reaction in the skin, these new insights have shown that this application can also trigger the production of TGF-beta3 which will result in hair follicle stem cell activation and subsequent hair growth.
In their own words:
“The present study identifies crosstalk between Treg cells and HFSCs mediated by the GR–TGF-β3 axis, highlighting a possible means of manipulating Treg cells to support tissue regeneration.”
Journal article: Liu, Z., et al., 2022. Glucocorticoid signaling and regulatory T cells cooperate to maintain the hair-follicle stem-cell niche. Nature Immunology.
Summary by Stefan Botha