It is generally agreed that the dermal papilla is a vital component of the hair and feather follicle. Lillie & Wang (1941, 1944) and Wang (1943) have shown for feather follicles that if the dermal papilla, which normally maintains its integrity throughout the growth cycles, and its ectodermal investment are removed from the follicle, feather production ceases. However, if a dermal papilla is transplanted into these ‘deprived’ follicles, renewed feather growth is induced. An inductive property is also ascribed to the dermal papilla of the hair follicle (Chase, 1955; Cohen, 1961). Chase has suggested that in the hair follicle the dermal papilla retains its integrity throughout the growth cycles and induces renewed follicle activity at the end of telogen.
However, relatively little experimental work has been performed on the dermal papilla of the hair follicle to determine the exact role of the papilla in follicle maintenance and hair growth.