Regulatory T Cells in Skin Facilitate Epithelial Stem Cell Differentiation

Niwa Ali, Bahar Zirak, Robert Sanchez Rodriguez, Mariela L. Pauli, Hong An Truong, Kevin Lai, Richard Ahn, Kaitlin Corbin, Margaret M. Lowe, Tiffany C. Scharschmidt, Keyon Taravati, Madeleine R. Tan, Roberto R. Ricardo-Gonzalez, Audrey Nosbaum, Marta Bertolini, Wilson Liao, Frank O. Nestle, Ralf Paus, George Cotsarelis, Abul K. AbbasMichael D. Rosenblum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The maintenance of tissue homeostasis is critically dependent on the function of tissue-resident immune cells and the differentiation capacity of tissue-resident stem cells (SCs). How immune cells influence the function of SCs is largely unknown. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) in skin preferentially localize to hair follicles (HFs), which house a major subset of skin SCs (HFSCs). Here, we mechanistically dissect the role of Tregs in HF and HFSC biology. Lineage-specific cell depletion revealed that Tregs promote HF regeneration by augmenting HFSC proliferation and differentiation. Transcriptional and phenotypic profiling of Tregs and HFSCs revealed that skin-resident Tregs preferentially express high levels of the Notch ligand family member, Jagged 1 (Jag1). Expression of Jag1 on Tregs facilitated HFSC function and efficient HF regeneration. Taken together, our work demonstrates that Tregs in skin play a major role in HF biology by promoting the function of HFSCs. Localized regulatory T cells (Tregs) regulate the hair follicle cycle by driving Notch-dependent stem cell proliferation and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number6
Early online date25 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Alopecia areata
  • Hair
  • Hair follicle stem cell
  • Hair regeneration
  • Jagged 1
  • Notch
  • Regulatory T cell
  • Skin


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