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A New Target for Treating Hair Loss

A study published in Cell Reports has unveiled a new regulatory mechanism, presenting a potential target for the treatment of hair loss.

he National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China has observed that hair loss, or alopecia, has been increasing greatly among Chinese people in recent years, exceeding 250 million people. Despite this, effective treatment for this condition is still lacking.

In our skin, the stimulation of growth factors activates hair follicle stem cells and progenitors to generate hair follicles and hair. Conversely, defects in hair regeneration can lead to decreased sensitivity of hair follicles to growth stimuli. However, it is not well known how the sensitivity of hair follicle stem cells to growth stimuli is determined.

A study conducted by Prof. Zhang Liang from the Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health (SINH) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and colleagues aimed to address this question. Their findings revealed the role of the gene miR-24 and its mechanism in limiting the regenerative competence of hair follicle progenitors, providing important clues for the treatment of hair loss.

With the use of mouse models, the researchers found that miR-24 acts to limit the sensitivity of hair follicle progenitors to growth stimuli. By targeting another gene Plk3, miR-24 inhibits hair follicle progenitors’ activation, which in turn delays hair cycle progression. This suggests that miR-24 is a key factor limiting the regenerative ability of skin hair follicle progenitors.

Meanwhile, the ablation of miR-24 in skin epithelium was found to significantly improve the effect of a known hair-growth stimulant, Minoxidil. A topical solution of 2%, but not 1%, minoxidil solution activated hair growth in control mice, while a topical solution of 1% was enough to activate hair growth in miR-24-ablated mice, suggesting that miR-24 could limit the sensitivity of skin epithelial cells to growth stimuli.

From this study, researchers now have a potential target for hair regeneration therapies, bringing to light a new hope for treating hair loss. [APBN]

Source: Liu et al. (2021). miR-24 controls the regenerative competence of hair follicle progenitors by targeting Plk3. Cell Reports, 35(10), 109225.