Dermal papilla cells (DPCs) control the development of hair follicles via cell-cell interactions and extracellular molecules. Colchicine affected active anagen DPCs to result in hair loss in the clinical setting. The purpose of this study was to identify the retro-modulator released by DPCs exposed to sub-toxic dose of colchicine and elucidate its effect on dermal papilla culture. The molecular-weight cutoff ultrafiltration and HPLC were used to purify the components of colchicine-treated DPC secretomes and examined their ability to down-regulate the growth and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity of DPCs. The active product was identified by in-gel trypsin digestion, nano-LC-ESI-MS/MS and validated by Western blot to be histone H4 (P62804), which inhibited the proliferation and diminished the ALP activity of cultured DPCs. Treating DPCs with recombinant histone H4 reproduced the growth inhibition effect whereas adding antibody to immunoneutralize histone H4 abolished this growth inhibitory consequence. DPCs with high ALP activity can induce the neogenesis of hair follicles and support the hair fiber growth in vivo. Our results indicated that sub-lethal colchicine can inactivate DPCs through releasing histone H4. Through the investigation of the retro-modulation of histone H4 on dermal papillae may give implications for understanding the mechanism of colchicine-induced hair disorder.
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