New findings on male pattern baldness identify an abnormal volume of a protein concentrated in the scalp of men who are going bald – findings that may lead to effective new treatments for the most common type of hair loss that afflicts eight out of 10 men under the age of 70.
The protein, called, called Prostaglandin D2 (PGD2) and its derivative, 15-dPGJ2, work to inhibit hair growth in both human and animal test subjects. Additionally, researchers discovered that PGD-caused hair growth inhibition occurs through a receptor named GPR44, offering an encouraging therapeutic approach to addressing androgenic alopecia with thinning and hair loss in both men and women.
The research, published in Science Translation Medicine, comes from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who examined scalp tissue taken from bald spots and areas where hair continued to grow in men with male pattern baldness, and then compared those findings with scalp tissue taken from men whose balding was caused by androgenetic alopecia. The findings were striking: tissue samples from male pattern balding measured concentrations of PGD2 three times higher than tissue samples from androgenetic alopecia.
Taking it one step further, researchers reported that adding PGD2 to cultured hair follicles, the resulting hair was significantly shortened. When 15-dPGJ2 was added, hair growth was completely inhibited. With male pattern baldness, hair follicles first shrink, producing thinner and shorter hairs, and eventually microscopic hairs which have an abbreviated growth time compared to unaffected hair follicles.
According to George Cotsarelis, MD, senior author of the studies, the findings were unexpected because researchers had not thought about prostaglandins in relation to hair loss before, as a different prostaglandin (F2alpha) is known to increase hair growth. This latest study shows that as PGD2 inhibits hair growth, other prostaglandins work in opposition to increase and regulate the speed of hair growth.
Cotsarelis, chair and professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, says that prostaglandins may represent a common pathway shared by both men and women with androgenetic alopecia (AGA).
“It made sense that there was an inhibitor of hair growth, based on our earlier work looking at hair follicle stem cells,” Cotsarelis said.
Cotsarelis is referring to a University of Pennsylvania study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2011 that found underlying hair follicle stem cells intact, suggesting that either a hair follicle growth inhibitor existed in the scalp tissue, or a growth activator was missing.
Prostaglandins are present in a wide array of bodily functions, as they work to constrict and dilate smooth muscle tissue, and they govern cell growth. In future studies, Cotsarelis says that testing topical treatments being developed to target the inhibiting qualities of GPR44 in male pattern balding may help determine whether women who suffer from AGA can benefit from treatments targeting prostaglandins as well.
If you want to learn more about new treatments for hair loss, visit a Hairlogica hair loss clinic for a professional consultation to have your hair loss concerns diagnosed, and a treatment plan put in place designed specifically for you.