HMGB1 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of multiple maladies, but its role in reversing hair loss was only recently established.
This effect is believed to be mediated by the upregulation of prostaglandin E1 and E2 secretion.
Research and Results
On April 30th, 2019, an article published by the Nature Journal reported a study that aimed at deciphering the role of HMGB1 in hair growth, as well as the potential mechanisms involved.
The study — conducted by researchers at the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology Research Institute at Yonsei University College of Medicine, and the New Hair Institute — was inspired by the unexpected hair growth seen after trauma-induced tissue injury.
Researchers started by evaluating the effects of HMGB1 on hair shaft elongation, mRNA, and protein expression in cultured human dermal papilla cells (hDPCs), and the results came back positive; HMGB1 improved hair elongation in an ex vivo hair organ culture.
In hDPCs; however, HMGB1 increased the mRNA and protein expression of the pro-inflammatory mediator Prostaglandin E.
To make sure that the HMGB1 is the compound responsible for this effect, researchers blocked the HMGB1 receptor, and as a result, both HMGB1-induced prostaglandin secretion and hair elongation disappeared.
The study then concluded:
our results suggest that HMGB1 promotes hair growth via PGE2 secretion from hDPCs. This mechanism can explain the paradoxical phenomenon of trauma-induced hair growth. Thus, HGMB1 can be a viable therapeutic target for the treatment of alopecia.
Hair elongation: before and after HMGB1 use.
How it works
While the exact mechanism of how HMGB1 is able to reverse hair loss is still unknown, researchers believe it’s the result of prostaglandin E2 up-regulation.
Prostaglandin E2 is a pro-inflammatory mediator with vasodilatory and cell proliferative properties.
The Korean researchers emphasized the role of PGE2 by stating that “treatment with viprostol, a PGE2 analogue, increases hair growth in humans. PGE2 also modulates cell proliferation and viability. Thus, prostaglandins, particularly PGE2, are critically involved in hair growth.”