Stem cells are a form of regenerative medicine that acts as the body’s natural healing mechanism. They have many clinical applications, including the ability to aid in tissue repair for musculoskeletal injuries and help control the symptoms of chronic illness. Recently, cosmetic applications for stem cells have also emerged.
UCLA researchers recently discovered a way to activate stem cells within the hair follicle to facilitate growth. They believe their findings could pave the way for treatments for people experiencing baldness or alopecia, a type of hair loss associated with stress, aging, chemotherapy, and hormonal imbalances.
The stem cells in hair follicles have a long lifespan and produce hair over the course of a person’s life. They are quiescent, or inactive most of the time, but activate during growth cycles. Many factors influence the quiescent state of these cells. When they fail to activate, hair loss occurs.
Researchers at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA discovered that the metabolism of stem cells in hair follicles is different from that of other skin cells. Cellular metabolism consists of breaking down nutrients so cells can divide and generate energy. In this process, enzymes are used to alter nutrients. Hair follicle stem cells consume glucose, a form of sugar, and produce a specific metabolite called pyruvate. The cells then send pyruvate to the mitochondria, or parts of the cell responsible for energy creation, and transform that into lactate.
The researchers blocked lactate production in mice and saw that the hair follicle stem cells would no longer activate. Then, they increased the lactate production, noticing an increase in stem cell activation, and consequently, an increased hair cycle.
Two drugs were applied to the skin of mice and resulted in accelerated hair growth in mice. These findings suggest that stem cell treatments may be an alternative treatment option for people experiencing hair loss looking to restore growth.
This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for hair, also known as Stem cells for hair loss. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.