Discover the Latest Hair Loss Research News
The past few decades have seen the reasons behind hair loss become better known by the public as they have gained a greater awareness of why it happens as well as learning more about their hair restoration options. The science behind the treatment of hair loss is always evolving as the medical community works to research and create new methods of giving patients the hairline they desire. Here is a look at the latest scientific discoveries and treatments being studied to determine if they will be able to prevent hair loss in the future along with some general information about the loss of hair on the scalp.
Hair Loss – Is it Normal?
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is quite normal for people to lose anywhere from fifty to one hundred hairs on the scalp each day. Having said that, an excessive amount of hair loss can cause the hair to have thinning sections on the scalp as well as bald areas and/or total hair loss.
Some of the other possible causes for hair loss include genetics, sudden stress related to health or work issues, illnesses, some medications, constant pulling of the hair in a certain area of the scalp, or an autoimmune disease.
How Ongoing Stress Creates Hair Loss in Mice
In March of last year, scientists revealed how chronic stress can cause the hair follicles of a person to remain in the resting phase for a longer period of time.
Hair follicles can regenerate themselves thanks to special cells that are known as adult stem cells. A research team at the Harvard Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology in Cambridge, MA, discovered how chronic stress in mice was able to suppress the activity of these cells. The research team showed that a stress hormone known as corticosterone, which is the equivalent in mice of cortisol in humans, keeps the stem cells associated with follicles in an inactive state. Their findings were reported in 2021 in Nature.
The research team shared the fact that, in the absence of circulating corticosterone, the stem cells of the mice experienced more rounds of regeneration during their lifetime, On the other hand, a high level of the hormone that was the result of chronic stress kept them in an active state for a longer period of time and resulted in fewer instances of regeneration.
Instead of directly impacting the stem cells, corticosterone acted on the dermal papilla (which is a cell cluster located underneath the follicle). The researchers also reported that the stress hormone in mice stopped the dermal papilla from being able to create Gas6 (a molecular signal that normally activates follicle stem cells).
The lead author of the study, Dr. Sekyu Choi, said, “Under both normal and stress conditions, adding Gas6 was sufficient to activate hair follicle stem cells that were in the resting phase and to promote hair growth. In the future, the Gas6 pathway could be exploited for its potential in activating stem cells to promote hair growth.”
The research team says more studies need to be conducted in mice before any possible treatments in humans can be explored.
Can a Muscle Cause Hair Loss?
There has been some news about scientists who have discovered how a muscle that surrounds each individual hair follicle might play a part in the process of hair loss and regeneration. The muscle in question is known as the dermal sheath and it is considered to be a type of “smooth muscle.” This means that the muscle is not under any type of voluntary control (as opposed to a skeletal muscle).
A team of researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York has been investigating the role the dermal sheath muscle plays in mice. The research team was able to show that the muscle physically drives the regression of hair follicles in the “catagen” portion of the hair growth cycle. When the dermal sheath contracts, it squeezes the hair follicle, and this starts the regression process. At the same time this is happening, the dermal papilla cells from under the follicle relocate upwards through the skin to the area where the stem cells are located in the upper follicle. Once it reaches the new position, the dermal papilla can signal the stem cells to begin the process of generating new hair.
In addition, the researchers were able to show that the same contraction process occurs in the hair follicles of humans. This has led them to the belief that preventing the muscle from contacting can stop the regression of hair follicles.
Dr. Michael Rendl, the senior author of the study, said, “Blocking the newly discovered muscle and its contraction cannot cure baldness caused by those processes.” He did point out that stopping the “destruction phase” of the cycle might be able to preserve the existing hair shaft that would be lost once a new hair is produced.
A description of the study conducted by this research team was published in Science in January 2020.