Ripping hair helps against hair loss

Unusual cure uses "help cry" of hair follicles to provoke new growth

Hereditary hair loss in men - but no herb has grown. © thinkstock
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Sounds paradoxical: In order to stop the hair loss in men, you have to tear them out first hair. Because that triggers a biochemical cry for help with the hair follicles, which spurs the surrounding hair roots to new hair growth. This is suggested by experiments with mice. After all, 200 plucked hair sprouts up to 1, 200 new ones. As the researchers report in the journal "Cell", this could also work for men.

The problem many men know: From a certain age, her hair is thinner and finally clears in certain places - from the receding hairline slowly becomes a bald head. The reason for this are the hair follicles, which switch to the back burner: Instead of healthy hair, they only produce extremely small, thin hairs that usually break off immediately. Causes of this often hereditary hair loss are hypersensitivity of the follicles to testosterone, but also certain messengers that inhibit hair growth.

Significant growth spurt

Chih-Chiang Chen from the University of Southern California and his colleagues have now tested an unusual cure for this problem: Ripping hair. For their study, they plucked mice on their backs sequentially 200 hairs in a specific pattern - in one approach, only a few per area, in another but in a denser sequence, in which all plucked hair came from a mere five millimeters, round surface.

New hair growth in the "plucked" area © Cheng-Ming Chuong

The result was astonishing: Hair was plucked in a small area where hair was plucked soon after - and it had grown much more than before. Between 450 and 1, 300 new hairs, the researchers counted on the tiny area and in their immediate vicinity.

Biochemical "cry for help"

But what is the reason for this growth spurt? As the researchers explain, has long been known that hair follicles emit a chemical stress signal to their environment in case of damage and injuries. Similar to how bacteria convey their condition to their conspecifics, hair follicles also appear to have "quorum sensing, " as biologists call it. display

In the case of the follicles, this communication occurs via inflammatory proteins. These cause immune cells to rush to the place of plucking, as the researchers found out in analyzes. Once there, these defense cells release other messengers, including the tumor necrosis factor alpha, and this stimulates the hair follicles to produce new hair.

"This is a good example of how basic research can lead to results that can be put to practical use, " says co-author Cheng-Ming Chuong of the University of Southern California. "Because this work shows us potential starting points for the treatment of alopecia." To what extent this method actually works against hereditary male pattern hair loss or against the common in women diffuse hair loss, m Nunssen now show more tests. (Cell, 2015; doi: 10.1016 / j.cell.2015.02.016)

(University of Southern California - Health Sciences, 10.04.2015 - NPO)