Chemical agents and peptides affect hair growth


Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center, Madison 53715-1299.


During the past decade we have examined both the therapeutic and the prophylactic effects of several agents on the macaque model of androgenetic alopecia. Minoxidil and diazoxide, potent hypotensive agents acting as peripheral vasodilators, are known to have a hypertrichotic side effect. Topical use of both agents induced significant hair regrowth in the bald scalps of macaques. The application of a steroid 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor (4MA) in non-bald preadolescent macaques has prevented baldness, whereas controls developed it during 2 years of treatment. The effects of hair growth were determined by 1) phototrichogram, 2) folliculogram (micro-morphometric analysis), and 3) the rate of DNA synthesis in the follicular cells. These effects were essentially a stimulation of the follicular cell proliferation, resulting in an enlargement of the anagen follicles from vellus to terminal type (therapy) or a maintenance of the prebald terminal follicles (prevention). A copper binding peptide (PC1031) had the effect of follicular enlargement on the back skin of fuzzy rats, covering the vellus follicles; the effect was similar to that of topical minoxidil. Analyzing the quantitative sequences of follicular size and cyclic phases, we speculate on the effect of agents on follicular growth. We also discuss the triggering mechanism of androgen in the follicular epithelial-mesenchymal (dermal papilla) interaction.