The effects of wounding the lower region of rat vibrissa follicles with a sharp tungsten needle were examined histologically, both shortly after injury and up to one year postoperatively. Following cell damage in the dermal papilla component hair growth ceased, and resumption of fibre production was always preceded by dermal papilla reformation. This papilla healing and regeneration was not associated with the production of scar tissue. In follicles undergoing no cell displacement during wounding (an effect associated with the growth of longer than normal hairs) dermal papillae were reformed from the residual papilla cell population, with recruitment of cells from surrounding mesenchyme. Follicles plucked just prior to wounding revealed little or no original epidermal matrix three days later, confirming that dermal components were primarily affected. Papilla cell counts performed on follicles which had consistently produced longer hairs gave no indication of increased papilla cell numbers. Follicles which underwent displacement of cellular material and displayed distortion of normal follicle morphology shortly after wounding (effects associated with the production of shorter than normal hairs) also revealed abnormalities at long-term biopsy. Moreover these follicles often had a history of altered fibre characteristics from one postoperative generation to the next. It is concluded that gross morphological disruption of the normal cellular relationships in the lower follicle results in a series of reorganizational difficulties with each recurring phase of the hair cycle.

This content is only available via PDF.