Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 10385914
Pigment Cell Res. 1999 Jun;12(3):181-6
Mice homozygous for the recessive patchwork (pwk) mutation are characterized by a variegated pigment pattern with a mixture of unpigmented and normally pigmented hairs. The pigmented hair bulbs contain functional melanocytes. By contrast, the unpigmented hair bulbs contain no melanocytes. This lack results from the death of melanoblasts in the hair follicle at the end of embryogenesis. Here, we report that melanoblasts and melanocytes are found in the epidermis of pwk/pwk mice. Furthermore, these epidermal pigment cells are able to colonize new hair follicles after skin wounding. Despite the presence of epidermal pigment cells with a colonization potential, a follicle that had produced an unpigmented hair produces a new unpigmented hair during the successive hair growth cycles. This hair color continuity is also true for the pigmented hair follicles. Thus, in normal conditions, the hair acts as an independent functional unit as regards its pigment cells population.