- Past studies have found the so-called Wnt signal regulates hair in some areas
- The new research reveals Wnt’s hair-growth effects extend across the entire skin
- Researchers say hair speaks through a ‘dialect’ that connects the back and belly
- Communication between balding and non-balding regions could be activated
- Hair growth signals could spread across the scalp, preventing regional baldness
Scientists may be one step closer to curing both baldness and unwanted hair as they discover follicles speak through ‘words’ and ‘sentences’, new research reveals.
The so-called Wnt signalling pathway regulates hair growth across the entire skin, a study found, not just certain regions of the body as previously thought.
Lead author Maksim Plikus from the University of California in Irvine, said: ‘We showed that although different signaling “dialects” may exist between belly and back skin, for instance, all hairs can understand one another through the use of similar “words” and “sentences”.
‘If communication between non-balding and balding regions can be reactivated, hair growth signals can then start spreading across the entire head skin, preventing regional baldness.’
The researchers also believe their discovery could combat unwanted hair growth.
Scientists discover hair cells communicate, which could lead to a baldness cure (stock)
SCIENTISTS DISCOVER IMMUNE CELLS THAT TRIGGER HAIR GROWTH
Scientists have discovered how certain immune cells could be used to cure hair loss, it was revealed back in May.
The regulatory T-cells, known as ‘Tregs’, are present throughout our bodies.
They control inflammation by ensuring every part of the immune system is running smoothly.
Now a research team has discovered another previously unknown function of Tregs – they can trigger hair growth.
Testing mice, scientists from the University of California in San Francisco showed how Tregs in the skin send out signals that stimulate hair follicles to regenerate.
Lead researcher Dr Michael Rosenblum said the findings mark one of the biggest steps in baldness and immune system research.
How the study was carried out
Researchers from the University of California in Irvine analyzed hair growth in mice.
They investigated the Wnt signaling pathway, which previous studies have demonstrated regulates hair growth in certain regions of the body.
The researchers used mathematical models to determine the extent of Wnt’s regulation.
Results revealed that Wnt’s hair growth regulation-effects extend across the entire skin.
Mr Plikus said: ‘In analogy with languages spoken in two neighboring countries, it was unclear how the back skin ‘talks’ with the belly skin to coordinate the tasks of growing hairs.
‘We showed that although different signaling “dialects” may exist between belly and back skin, for instance, all hairs can understand one another through the use of similar “words” and “sentences”.’
The findings were published in the journal eLife.
How could the research cure baldness?
Mr Plikus said: ‘If communication between non-balding and balding regions can be reactivated, hair growth signals can then start spreading across the entire head skin, preventing regional baldness.’
‘Our study identified the types of Wnt signaling levels that are very favorable for hair growth and the types that prevent it.
‘It provides the road map for optimizing Wnt-BMP levels to achieve enhanced hair growth.’