FGF-9 for hair loss

Recent discussions in the scientific community on stimulating hair growth have revolved around FGF9. So what is this substance, and how does it work?

FGF9, also known as Fibroblast Growth Factor-9‎, is “an autocrine and paracrine prostatic growth factor expressed by prostatic stromal cells” and used by specific T-cells in the body. These T-cells are used by the immune system to repair damage to the skin. Early evidence suggests we may be able to use FGF-9’s skin-repairing growth factor to repair dead hair follicles, so that they may be able to grow hair again.

In a 2015 meta-analysis labeled Wound Healing and Skin Regeneration:

They showed that the tail skin of these mutant mice do not close their wounds as efficiently as control tail skin containing hair follicles. However, after an initial lag period, the wound re-epithelializes at the same rate. From these results, it was concluded that hair follicle cells accelerate the onset of wound healing but are not necessary for wound healing. The relevance of hair follicles to wound healing was also shown by a study that investigated the influence of hair cycle stages on the rate of wound healing.

Potential issues with using this as a treatment have to do with these very T-cells. Humans bodies don’t contain as many T-cells, so activating them might not have the desired effects for hair regrowth. There are also some issues with this new treatment not being tested fervently, leaving potential hazards for long-term growth. For instance, in the same 2015 meta-analysis, the researchers mentioned a study stating:

In mice that lack γδ-T cells (Tcrb−/− mice ) or FGF-9 expression specifically in T cells (Lck-Cre:Fgf9fl/fl mice), wound closure occurs normally, while Wnt signaling is abrogated in dermal fibroblasts, resulting in decreased hair neogenesis. These findings showed that the interplay between immune cells and skin fibroblasts recruited to the wound site is essential to the activation of molecular pathways that promote hair follicle regeneration.

This shows that the regrowth of hair follicles relies on the presence of T cells in the skin. However, this does not mean that FGF9 does not work at all, in fact, it may have potential to help the regrowth of hair in areas where hair may be lacking. The main issue comes with how effective this can be in the long term.

Researchers are focusing on creating FGF9 into a topical solution. This solution can be used to rub on the area where you want more hair, and can make the growth factor more usable by the human skin. According to a report on Nature.com, many researchers were hopeful, but also skeptical:

Topical FGF9 would be catabolized readily in the skin, thus, delivering adequate sustained levels is not a simple task even if FGF9 maintains the same results in humans….FGF9 will not treat the underlying cause of any specific hair disease. Its best use might be in burn scars, for example, where the trauma occurred in the past but is not an ongoing disease.

More research is being done to test what can be done to boost the effectiveness of this growth factor. There is potential that this can, in the very least, help promote hair growth alongside other topical solutions on the market today designed to stop hair loss.

How can you use FGF9 to increase hair growth?

As a result of the growing demand of the growth factors in hair growth, many companies have been adding what are called Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media (HFCM) into their products. One company that was known to add them in is Cygenx, who sells RegenRXx Hair Serum 90. These are a group of many growth factors that may or may not promote hair growth.

Most of these are topical solutions that you apply to your scalp. If it’s a topical solution you should apply the solution to your scalp, and rub it in for several minutes to ensure deep penetration into the skin and follicles. Afterwords, leave it in your hair for up to 8 hours without washing it. This is to ensure that you get maximum potential from the product.

However, it doesn’t seem like there are many easy to find products that contain this specific growth factor. While you can buy the factor is a more pure form from some websites, it is unclear whether it is effective in that form.

A quick search in Amazon brings up a few products containing FGF9, specifically for treating hair loss. Whether these products work is impossible to say at this stage.

References and further reading

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4292081/
  2. http://www.nature.com/scibx/journal/v6/n24/full/scibx.2013.590.html
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10362017