Sun 30 Sep 2012
Recently, it seems like hair loss sufferers are enticed by a new “hair loss cure” on a weekly basis. Whether it’s “unlimited donor supply” hair transplant procedures, stem cell therapy, or miracle drugs, researchers and scientists frequently claim they’ve found the cure for genetic hair loss and will offer the treatment “very soon.”
However, researchers from Tokyo, California, and New York may have discovered a far more reasonable and realistic piece in the hair loss cure puzzle: Vitamin D.
Recently, researchers from around the globe began investigating the role of Vitamin D and hair loss, and found the following:
First, a variety of research groups now believe the Vitamin D receptor (the protein receptor in the body where Vitamin D binds) is crucial in activating hair growth.
Next, while conducting additional research on Vitamin D and hair loss, a research team at the University of California, San Francisco discovered a molecule called “MED.” These researchers were able to isolate the gene responsible for creating MED in laboratory mice, and found that “knocking out” (genetically removing the gene from the DNA sequence) the gene drastically decreased hair growth in the mice. Because of this, the researchers believe this gene could be a target for advanced hair loss genetic therapy.
Next, a different research team, also working with Vitamin D and hair loss, recently discovered a molecule called LEF1, and realized this molecule could activate Vitamin D receptors in the absence of the vitamin itself. Because the molecule was able to alter hair growth without the presence of Vitamin D, it further confirmed the role of the receptor in hair growth. The team believes introducing molecules like this could change the “fate” of hair loss by maintaining hair follicles in the growth or “anagen” phase.
Finally, a research team in Tokyo working on inducing functional hair follicles from stem cells noted cells transformed into follicles at much greater rates when treated with Vitamin D (compared to the cells that were not). Because of this, the researchers determined that Vitamin D (or Vitamin D receptors) are crucial in the growth and development of healthy hair follicles.
However, because excessive amounts of Vitamin D can cause health problems ranging from calcium deposits to kidney injury, each of these teams noted that the mechanism behind Vitamin D, the Vitamin D receptor, and hair loss needs to be further established before any sort of treatment recommendation is offered.
At this point, the link between Vitamin D and hair loss remains unclear. Early research seems to note an important link between the Vitamin D receptor and normal functioning hair follicles, but calling Vitamin D a “hair loss cure” is likely premature at this time. However, we will continue to follow this exciting research and keep interested readers updated!
Blake Bloxham – formerly “Future_HT_Doc”
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