Researchers have accidentally discovered a way for regrowing hair by blocking a stress hormone that they say could apply to humans.
The researchers say treatment with a compound in mice resulted in "astounding long-term hair regrowth" in mice that might also lead to treatment of hair loss in humans brought about by stress and aging.
The research team from UCLA and the Veterans Administration was investigating the effect of stress on the gastrointestinal system on mice when they accidentally found that blocking a stress hormone called corticotrophin-releasing factor, or CRF in mice using a a peptide called astressin-B resulting in new hair growth.
The mice, that were engineered to produce high levels of CRF, lose hair on their backs and eventually become bald as they age, unlike their normals counterparts.
After multiple injections of astressin-B, the scientists had difficulty distinguishing the bald mice because they had regrown the hair on their back. During the experiments the researchers were focused on the gastrointestinal response of the compound.
According to Million Mulugeta, an adjunct professor of medicine in the division of digestive diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a corresponding author of the research, "When we analyzed the identification number of the mice that had grown hair we found that, indeed, the astressin-B peptide was responsible for the remarkable hair growth in the bald mice.Subsequent studies confirmed this unequivocally."
Injecting one dose of astressin-B daily for five days in a row maintained the effect of hair regrowth. "This is a comparatively long time, considering that mice's life span is less than two years," Mulugeta said.
The findings have not been tested in humans, but according to the study authors, the accidental discovery could lead to new hair loss remedies that work in humans.
The researchers note treatment of hair loss in mice with Minoxidil works the same as in humans, leading them to believe astressin-B could also translate to use for regrowing hair in humans.. Stress-hormone CRF receptors are also found in human skin.
Wang L, Million M, Rivier J, Rivier C, Craft N, et al. 2011 "CRF Receptor Antagonist Astressin-B Reverses and Prevents Alopecia in CRF Over-Expressing Mice" PLoS ONE 6(2): e16377. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016377