Close to 35 million men in the United States face some issue of hair losswith close to 21 million women are affected by hair loss, according to a 2014 survey by the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (http://www.statisticbrain.com/hair-loss-statistics/). One of the most common hair loss manifestations is androgenic alopecia that targets 30 to 50% of men before 50 years. Though this condition is not medically serious, it affects what is termed as self-image causing anxiety and depression in some men (Varman et al, Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, 2018). Another common hair loss problem is alopecia that again is not medically threatening; the loss of hair along with irritation can be associated with self-doubt. These issues currently lack sure-shot treatments and the search for therapies that can “heal” these issues in the true sense is the need of the hour.
The hair follicles show the presence of hair follicular stem cells (HFSCs) that regenerate the epidermal cells and maintain the structures of hair follicles as well as the sebaceous glands. Research in Biomedicines (2019) has shown that the numbers of hair follicle stem cells are the same in scalps suffering from hair loss although the numbers of progenitor cells that are actively dividing are lesser. This brings in the field of regenerative medicine using stem cells to address hair loss. These treatments involve regenerating and stimulating hair growth.
Usually, cells are isolated from the target tissue and the accessibility of hair follicles makes the use of stem cells attractive for hair loss treatment. The biology of the hair follicles is well known and the cells have been cultured tostem be used for autologous transplantation.
A clinical study by researchers Shin and team (2015) showed the beneficial effects of the administration of conditioned media from adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ADSCs) in 27 patients with female pattern hair loss. The suitability of this stem cell-based therapy was indicated by the lack of severe adverse side effectsas well as increases in the hair thickness from 57.5 μm to 64.0 μm and hair density from 105.4 to 122.7 hair/cm.
Another study reported in 2015 by Li and team (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01673789) showed the suitability of using stem cells to treat hair loss in 9 patients with alopecia areata in an open-label, phase 1/phase 2 study. The treatment involved what was termed as Stem Cell Educator therapy: circulation of the patient’s blood through a system that separates mononuclear cells that associate and interact with adherent human cord blood-derived multipotent stem cells for a short span followed by the return of these blood cells into the patient. Not only did the stem cell therapy improve hair regrowth and the quality of life but it was also found to exert protective effects by modulating the cytokines involved in the autoimmune attack causing the disease.
Given that the sebaceous glands, interfollicular epidermis, and hair follicle structurescan be generated from stem cells present in the hair bulge, a team led by scientist Gentile(2017) used mechanical centrifugation to isolate human adult stem cells from human hair follicles without any culture. The isolated HFSCs were found to boost the thickness of the hair in 11 men (38–61 years-old) with androgenic alopecia. The numbers and thickness of hair were augmented by 29% ± 5% than the baseline in the site treated with stem cells.
Most advertisements revolve around hair and skincare: the term balding induces terror in many people across the globe. The healing effect of stem cells is being established by research showing the way out of this condition to replace the “lost crowning glory”.
PriyadharshiniMahendraVarman et al., Study on Hair Fall and other Hair Related Problems among Males of Age 18-50 Years: Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 2018 Oct, Vol-12(10): LC09-LC12.
AlSogair SS. Stem cell therapy and hair loss: Present evidence and future perspectives. J DermatolDermatolSurg 2019;23:61-5.
Shin H, RyuHH, Kwon O, Park BS, Jo SJ. Clinical use of conditioned media of adipose tissue-derived stem cells in female pattern hair loss: A retrospective case series study. Int J Dermatol 2015;54:730-5.
Li Y, Yan B, Wang H, Li H, Li Q, Zhao D, et al. Hair regrowth in alopecia areata patients following stem cell educator therapy. BMC Med 2015;13:87.
Gentile P, Scioli MG, Bielli A, De Angelis B, De Sio C, De Fazio D, et al. Platelet-rich plasma and micrografts enriched with autologous human follicle mesenchymal stem cells improve hair re-growth in androgenetic alopecia. Biomolecular pathway analysis and clinical evaluation.Biomedicines 2019;7. pii: E27.
Gentile P, Scioli MG, Bielli A, Orlandi A, Cervelli V. Stem cells from human hair follicles:First mechanical isolation for immediate autologous clinical use in androgenetic alopecia and hair loss. Stem Cell Investig 2017;4:58.