We propose that epidermal growth factor functions as a biologic switch that is turned on and off in hair follicles at the beginning and end of the anagen phase of the hair cycle, guarding the entry to and exit from the anagen phase.
By signaling epidermal growth factor receptors, EGF is believed to initiate hair growth through intracellular signaling
Epidermal growth factor or EGF is an intrinsic hormone that stimulates cellular proliferation and differentiation; it is attributed to several physiological functions, including the protection of epithelial cells of the skin and gastrointestinal tract.
This hormone also plays a crucial role in cutaneous healing after an injury, as it stimulates epidermal and dermal regeneration.
Due to the major role epidermal growth factor and epidermal growth factor receptor play in regulating wound healing and cellular regeneration at different layers of the skin, scientists started to study the potential benefits of this hormone on hair growth and different types of alopecia.
By signaling epidermal growth factor receptors, EGF is believed to initiate hair growth through intracellular signaling.
Research and results
These studies in mice indicated a significant increase in the number of follicles per unit area
In a 2018 study, researchers analyzed the effect of BeauTop on hair loss; BeauTop is a food supplement that contains many herbal extracts.
The study was conducted in a laboratory environment and involved several mice divided into two groups; the first group consumed BeauTop as part of their diet, and the second one was a control group.
By the end of the study, scientists noted that mice that were administered BeauTop had significantly higher hair growth compared to the control group.
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These studies in mice indicated a significant increase in the number of follicles per unit area in the BT group compared with the controls on day 8. Thus, BT has the potential to improve hair growth through upregulating the expression of EGF and FGF-7 and through downregulating the expression of FGF-5.
How it works
EGF binds to the epidermal growth factor receptor to induce an intracellular cascade that allows the cell to proliferate and multiply.
Additionally, EGF can partially delay apoptosis in epithelial and epidermal cells, which may play a major role in reversing hair loss and maintaining new hair follicles.
In a 2016 study, scientists confirmed this mechanism, stating:
EGF can promote growth of the Outer Root Sheath (ORS) compartment of mink hair follicles in vitro, and enhance proliferation and migration of the ORS cells via activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. Moreover, Wnt/β-catenin signaling also mediates EGF-induced expression of several follicle-regulatory genes in the ORS cells.
How to use it
Unfortunately, there are no clinical trials around products that specifically target EGF upregulation; however, there are many products available online that claim to increase EGF or even contain EGF.
By identifying the exact mechanism of action of EGF, scientists can start looking for substances and products that may directly increase the levels of EGF to be used in the treatment of alopecia.
However, it is too early to draw out any conclusions since no human clinical trials have been conducted yet.