Could it be that Vitamin D is the cure for baldness that scientists have been looking for all these years? New research on Vitamin D, and its receptors in hair follicles, has taken us down a previously untrodden path that could, potentially, lead to new medical treatments for hair loss.
The Vitamin D receptor was previously known to stimulate hair follicles, which were in the dormant phase of hair growth, to grow hair when activated. The research into Vitamin D and its effect on hair and skin, centers around this receptor.
One group of researchers — based in San Francisco, California — has discovered that a molecule, called MED, suppresses the Vitamin D receptor, thereby preventing the follicle from growing a new hair. Their research in mice found that blocking the MED molecule allowed mice to grow more hair. A second research team, from Harvard Medical School, has found a molecule that activates the receptor. However, they have been unable to use the molecule to grow new hair.
A third research group, based in Japan, used Vitamin D to stimulate stem cells to become hair-producing follicles in rats. Dr. Kotaro Yoshimura says of the study, “The results suggest that it may be useful in expanding human [dermal papilla cells (DPCs)] with good quality, and help establish a DPC transplantation therapy for growing hair.” His colleague on the study, Dr. Noriyuki Aoi, said, “We found that treating the dermal papilla cells with [Vitamin D] significantly enhanced the growth of new hair over that of the control group. We also observed a better rate of maturation of the follicles. In other words, the hair grew thicker and lasted longer.”
While the third group appears to be the closest to achieving hair growth from a Vitamin D-based treatment, viable treatments in humans are still many years away. As we have indicated in other posts on the Hair Transplant Blog, there is a great deal of ongoing medical research into the causes and treatment of hair loss. The way the field has progressed over the last 5 years it seems to be just a matter of when, not if, a cure for baldness is available to the public.