interspecies hair transplants

From: Robert Coyote (
Date: Thu Jan 31 2002 - 01:23:29 MST

For you trans species aficionados, in case you missed this one:
A new report in Nature1 tells an incredible story, that hair follicles are
an immune-privileged site and can, therefore, be induced to grow in an
incompatible host. In fact, in the study, hair follicles from one author
(male) were implanted into a genetically unrelated and immunologically
incompatible female recipient, another of the authors. All the implant sites
healed rapidly and lacked any overt inflammatory reaction; each site of
dermal-sheath implantation produced new follicles and fibers 3 to 5 weeks
after the graft. The follicles were taken from the head and implanted onto
the inner forearm; the resulting hairs from the implants were not fine,
unpigmented vellus hairs that grow from the inner arm, but were larger and
thicker, mostly pigmented, and were said to grow in variable directions. The
authors propose that this might be a new treatment for hair loss.
It might indeed. But it might also lead to very entertaining (or, to some,
appalling) new hair "styles." Young people, rather than dying their hair,
might have selected implants to give them multicolored heads of hair. Even
beyond that, if hair follicles are indeed immune-privileged sites, then even
interspecies hair transplants might be possible and desired by the more
adventurous. Imagine a head of silky mink fur! Or how about an entire "coat"
of mink fur?


  1.. Reynolds et al., "Trans-Gender Induction of Hair Follicles," Nature
402:33-34 (1999).

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