Experimental Research UnitProfile

Hair biology

The pilosebaceous unit is a complex mini-organ in its own right including the hair follicle, the sebaceous gland and the arrector pili muscle. Morphogenesis and cycling are controlled by a complex network of sequential activation and inactivation of autocrine, paracrine, and endocrine signaling pathways (Winiarska A Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2006;19:311-321) (Kamp H J Exp Dermatol 2003;12:662-672).

Identification of Targets

The physiological and clinical relevance of hair and hair growth, however, goes far beyond hair fibre growth and hair cycling. Multiple specialized cell populations can be found associated with the different compartments of the hair follicle, e.g. melanocytes, neuroendocrine cells, immune cells, stem cells all of which are easily accessible via hair follicles and putative targets for novel therapies (Boehm M Endocrinology 2005;146:4635-46)


More than 300 genetic conditions have hair abnormalities as a component feature. The evaluation of genetic alterations in signalling cascades involved in impaired hair shaft formation as well as the identification of susceptibility genes for hair diseases is one of our fields of interest (Lueking A Mol Cell Proteomics 2005;4:1382-90)

Hair Follicle Targeting

Based on the observation that micro- and nanoparticles specifically aggregate in hair follicle openings, we recently introduced the concept of particle-based drug delivery via hair follicles (Vogt A, J Invest Dermatol Symp Proc 10, 252-255, 2005). The characterization of the penetration profile of micro- and nanoparticles in different hair follicle types (Toll R, J Invest Dermatol 123, 168 –176, 2004), (Vogt A, J Invest Dermatol 126, 1316-22, 2006) led to the identification of novel applications of this expertise, i.e. in transcutaneous immunization strategies (Vogt A, J Immunol 180, 482-9, 2008).