Sep 29, 2015

Breakthrough Research : The Influence of fat cells on hair growth

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The Science Behind Fat and Fat Derived Regenerative Stem Cells

A recent study* shows fat cells inside the skin (intradermal) grow in sync with nearby hair follicles suggesting a possible link between the body’s fat cells and hair producing cells.  As a hair follicle goes from a resting to an active state, both mature and immature (precursor) cells grow and increase in number and activity.  In animal models, a chemical messenger first discovered in blood platelets called platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) is increased in fat precursor cells of mice with normal hair and it is decreased in mice with slower hair follicle activation.  Interestingly, one of the current treatments under development with early promising results involves injecting the scalp of a patient with hair loss with their own platelet enriched plasma, which is packed with PDGF in addition to many other growth factors.  Researchers found mice with genetic mutations that block their fat cells from normal function developed abnormal skin and significant hair loss.  On the other hand, too many fat cells, as in obesity, often leads to and increased amount of hair and growth of hair in unwanted areas (hirsutism).  More exciting research into how intradermal fat cells support hair growth is currently underway.

*This information was presented by Steven R. Cohen, MD, FACS at the 5th Annual Summit in Aesthetic Medicine

Written and edited for ZALEA by Dr Larisa Lehmer and Dr Christopher B. Zachary

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Jill S. Waibel, MD for the Editorial Voice - ZALEA Jill S. Waibel, MD

Unraveling hair follicle-adipocyte communication is a recent study discussing the possible complex interactions that may exist with the “ intradermal” fat cells communicating with hair producing cell life cycles. The model discusses both a role of a distinct layer of intradermal adipocytes which may regulate hair follicles. In addition signaling from growth factors and cytokines including PDGF, calcineurin/NFAT, BMP2, EGF and FFA also play important roles in hair growth. This science highlights how fast regenerative medicine is moving. At the forefront of regenerative medicine are induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). IPSC are induced by a virus with the ability – pluripotent to transform into any cell in the body. By definition stem cells proliferative indefinitely making them immortal. Currently, there are no FDA-approved human uses for stem cells. In 2016, we should start to see the first phase III human clinical trials in the United States with stem cells.  Most of these trials will be in the cardiovascular and neurosciences branches of medicine. Regenerative medicine is the next forefront of medicine and stem cells are being studied worldwide Japan is leading the way due to an encouraging regulatory environment. Stem cells are currently being studied most commonly as undifferentiated – unsorted stem cells that are then transplanted into organism hoping for therapeutic effect. Other stem cell strategies include in vitro differentiation of certain cells prior to transplantation. Lastly, some labs are growing “organs in a dish”/culture for tissue engineering and disease modeling. Disease modeling is recreating a disease and testing drugs on these cells for drug screening purposes. Although regenerative medicine is exciting, this field is in its infancy and many studies on safety and efficacy are needed.​

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