Multiple studies have shown the chemical adenosine increases the growth factors VEGF and FGF7. Both these growth factors are crucial for hair growth and research has shown that increasing scalp VEGF and FGF7 levels prolong the growth phase of hair.
Adenosine increases VEGF
VEGF, or vascular endothelial growth factor, is a growth factor that increases and helps maintain blood vessels. Research has shown that increasing scalp VEGF increase the length of time hair follicles stay connected to their blood supply. When a hair is in the anagen (growth) phase it is connected to a blood vessel. The hair receives the amino acids and sulphur needed to grow via that blood vessel. When the hair stops growing it disconnects from the blood vessel. Increasing scalp VEGF has been shown to keep the hairs connected to the blood vessels for longer, maintaining longer growth of the hair.
Several studies have shown adenosine increases VEGF. Here’s an extract from one:
Adenosine dose-dependently up-regulated VEGF expression and secretion by macrophages from healthy volunteers. VEGF production was also increased by blockade of extracellular adenosine uptake with dipyridamole.
Adenosine is an anti-arrhythmic compound used to treat different types of heart diseases. In the body it is one of the four nucleosides in RNA and consists of adenine and ribose.
the solution containing 0.74% adenosine increased the anagen hair growth and increased hair shaft diameter
Adenosine’s natural role in the body is to help cellular energy transfer by forming molecules such as adenosine triphosphate and adenosine diphosphate. Other roles of adenosine include: activating signalling pathways and the dilation of the coronary blood vessels, which improves blood circulation and works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. (drugs.com, retrieved 2016)
Studies have shown that adenosine treatment may have significant results for hair growth and could help people suffering from androgenic alopecia. There are many compounds that help with this particular condition but what makes adenosine a good candidate to prevent hair loss and promote hair growth, even when compared to Minoxidil or Finasteride, is the fact that this compound is found naturally in the body and has limited (to no) side effects. (Oura et al., 2008)
Those who want to try this compound on their own might have difficulty finding it as it has only been used as a treatment in Asia. However, a solution containing adenosine does exist, it has been created by Shiseido and has been sold in Japan under the name Adenovital Scalp Essence.
There are several studies that show the effects of adenosine on people suffering from alopecia, when applied topically on its own, or in combination with other hair loss treatments.
Adenosine for female hair loss
A study by Oura et al. (2008) on Japanese women showed the compound can be a viable treatment for female pattern baldness. This double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled study was performed on 30 Japanese women with female pattern hair loss. The researchers created two groups, some of the volunteers used a solution that contained 0.74% adenosine while others used a placebo solution. The treatment lasted 12 months and the results were evaluated with the help of phototrichograms and dermatologists.
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The group that used adenosine had significantly better results than the placebo group. It seems that the solution containing 0.74% adenosine increased the anagen hair growth and increased hair shaft diameter. Another important aspect was the fact that there were no side effects noticed during the treatment, despite its longevity. Although the study’s volunteers were women, this doesn’t limit the effects of adenosine to women only.
Adenosine for male hair loss
the group receiving adenosine had significantly superior results
Another study by Watanabe et al. published in 2015 was performed on men to test the effects of adenosine. The study used the conclusions of the Oura study to create the premise that adenosine would work just as well on men. 102 Japanese men volunteered for this randomized, double blind study and received either a lotion containing niacinamide or adenosine. The volunteers underwent treatment for 6 months and the results were evaluated by dermatologists; hair density and percentages of vellus hair as well as thick hairs were evaluated.
The results showed that the group receiving adenosine had significantly superior results than the one receiving niacinamide by having a greater increase in hair thickness and improvement of AGA as well as a more positive self-assessment of hair from the participants of this study. Also, just like in the Oura study, there were no side effects to the adenosine treatment, despite its longevity.
Hair loss products that contain Adenosine
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Shiseido Adenovital Scalp Essence
Adenosine vs Minoxidil
Another study (Faghihi et al., 2013) compared the efficacy of a adenosine 0.75% solution with a topical minoxidil 5% solution on patients with male androgenetic alopecia. The premise of the study is that adenosine would have beneficial effects on people with male pattern androgenetic alopecia. There were 110 male participants in the study suffering from grade II to V androgenetic alopecia.
55 of the males participating received minoxidil 5% while the second group received adenosine 0.75%. Among them 16 patients were later excluded due to allergic reaction or no follow up after the treatment. The treatment lasted between 3 and 6 months until the groups were compared.
After 3 months group 1, the one that received minoxidil achieved 2.4% recovery while group 2 had a recovery of 1.9%, which was no statistically significantly different.
After 6 months the comparison between groups showed the following: none of the patients achieved complete recovery, the satisfaction rate was significantly higher in the group receiving adenosine due to the more rapid cessation of hair loss. The results show that although adenosine works on recovery it isn’t significantly better than minoxidil, however, further studies are needed with various drug dosage to have a clear image when it comes to the effects of this drug.
Adenosine for hair transplant patients
An interesting study by Cooley (2014) showed that hair implant grafts that received adenosine had better hair growth results. The grafts were divided into 3 groups: one group was stored in a HypoThermosol with adenosine triphosphate solution, a second group was store in a HypoThermosol solution only and the third group was stored in a saline solution.
The results were significantly better for the adenosine stored grafts. After being implanted into the patient’s scalp, the hairs that had grown into the first group was 72% (adenosine triphosphate solution _ HypoThermosol), the second group had a 44% growth (HypoThermosol) and no growth in the third group (saline solution).
Adenosine, wound healing and fibrosis
Another adenosine study (Feoktistov et al., 2013) on its role in wound healing, fibrosis and angiogenesis concluded that andenosine and its receptors play an important role in matrix protection and neovascularizations, both extremely important for wound healing and tissue repair.
Adenosine and Fibroblast Growth Factor 7 (FGF-7)
Iino et al. (2007) explored the relationship between the adenosine receptor and minoxidil induced hair growth. The authors of the study performed DNA microarray analyses of DPC’s and found that adenosine stimulation increases FGF-7 significantly; the FGF-7 is the fibroblast growth factor 7. The study concludes that adenosine might stimulate hair growth through FGF-7 upregulation in DPCs.
Adenosine promotes terminal hair growth in Caucasian men
A study (Iwabuchi et al., 2015) was performed on Caucasian men in order to assess the efficacy of adenosine. 38 men volunteered for the study, which lasted 6 months. The group that was treated with adenosine had a significantly higher change in hair count than the placebo group.
The change in vellus hair proportion was also significantly lower in the group that followed an adenosine treatment when compared to the placebo group. Again, this study concludes that there were no side effects to the adenosine treatment and that adenosine is an effective compound that can be used on Caucasian men as well as Japanese men and women suffering from androgenetic alopecia.
Hwang et al.(2012) also studied how adenosine functions and concluded that adenosine stimulates the growth of hair follicles by triggering the expression of growth factors 2 and 7 and by inducing their downstream target signalling pathways.
Fortunately, all these new studies seem to indicate that there is a new acquired interest in adenosine since the beginning of the 2000s and we should expect either a new drug or the release of Asian products on the Western market. Those who cannot wait for the product to be available in their country can contact the Shiseido Company themselves and see if they can get the product sent to them for testing.
- OURA, H., IINO, M., NAKAZAWA, Y., TAJIMA, M., IDETA, R., Nakaya, Y., ARASE, S. and KISHIMOTO, J. (2008), Adenosine increases anagen hair growth and thick hairs in Japanese women with female pattern hair loss: A pilot, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. The Journal of Dermatology, 35: 763–767. doi:10.1111/j.1346-8138.2008.00564.x Link: https://www.hgspecialist.com/resources/product-files/files/Adenosine-increases-anagen-hair-growth-and-thick-hairs-in-Japanese-women-with-female-pattern-hair-loss-A-pilot%2C-double-blind%2C-randomized%2C-placebo-controlled-trial..pdf
- http://www.worldpressonline.com/PressRelease/shiseido-to-deploy-the-hair-care-adenovital-scalp-essence-in-asia-32807.html – retreived 2016
- Watanabe, Y., Nagashima, T., Hanzawa, N., Ishino, A., Nakazawa, Y., Ogo, M., Iwabuchi, T. and Tajima, M. (2015), Topical adenosine increases thick hair ratio in Japanese men with androgenetic alopecia. Int J Cosmet Sci, 37: 579–587. doi:10.1111/ics.12235
- Faghihi, G. Iraji, F. Harandi, M.R. Nilforoushzadeh, M.A. Askari, G., Comparison of the efficacy of topical minoxidil 5% and adenosine 0.75% solutions on male androgenetic alopecia and measuring patient satisfaction rate, 2013, Acta Dermatovenerologica Croatica Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24183218
- Cooley JE. Bio-Enhanced Hair Restoration. Hair transplant Forum International. 2014;24(4):121, 128–130.
- Feoktistov, I., Biaggioni, I., & Cronstein, B. N. (2009). Adenosine Receptors in Wound Healing, Fibrosis and Angiogenesis. Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, (193), 383–397. Advance online publication. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-89615-9_13
- Iino, Masato et al Adenosine Stimulates Fibroblast Growth Factor-7 Gene Expression Via Adenosine A2b Receptor Signaling in Dermal Papilla Cells Journal of Investigative Dermatology , Volume 127 , Issue 6 , 1318 – 1325 Link: http://www.jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(15)33433-3/abstract
- Iwabuchi, T., Ideta, R., Ehama, R., Yamanishi, H., Iino, M., Nakazawa, Y., Kobayashi, T., Ohyama, M. and Kishimoto, J. (2016), Topical adenosine increases the proportion of thick hair in Caucasian men with androgenetic alopecia. J Dermatol, 43: 567–570. doi:10.1111/1346-8138.13159
- Hwang, K., Hwang, Y., Lee, M., Kim, N., Roh, S., Lee, Y. … Choi, K. (2012). Adenosine stimulates growth of dermal papilla and lengthens the anagen phase by increasing the cysteine level via fibroblast growth factors 2 and 7 in an organ culture of mouse vibrissae hair follicles. International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 29, 195-201. http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/ijmm.2011.817