Here we see another example of an immunosuppressant that has shown impressive signs of reducing hair loss and even causing hair regrowth. I’ve found a great deal of evidence now that shows immunosuppressants are effective hair loss treatments, providing further evidence that the auto-immune response is a crucial factor in hair loss.
Some research also indicates that DHT (the biggest villain in hair loss research) triggers some kind of auto-immune response in the follicles, causing increases inflammatory cytokines to eventually destroy the hair follicles.
Cyclosporine is also a psoriasis drug. Previously I’ve written about another psoriasis drug – Secukinumab – inadvertently causing massive hair regrowth in a patient as a side effect of the psoriasis cream treatment. I also recently wrote about Anthralin (another psoriasis drug) showing impressive hair regrowth results.
These treatments work by reducing inflammatory cytokines in the scalp. Cyclosporine A is a drug that works by interfering with the cytokine interleukin-2, which has been shown to prevent hair growth.
As with Minoxidil, one of the side effects of oral Cyclosporine is hypertrichosis – unwanted extra hair growth in places like the forehead. After this discovery, it made sense to investigate topical use of Cyclosporine as a hair loss treatment.
Of the remaining 22 patients, 10 experienced significant hair growth
Cyclosporine A (CsA) is an immunosuppressant drug primarily used after organ transplants to prevent the immune system from attacking the new organ.
However, we discovered that one of the side effects of this drug was hair regrowth in bald patients, which led scientists to do more research and gene expression analyses that made us understand the mechanism by which Cyclosporine A stimulates hair growth.
Researchers found that Cyclosporine A inhibits a protein called SFRP1; this protein plays a major role in the downregulation of a key pathway for the growth of hair follicles.
In a study done by the Gülhane School of Medicine, Department of Dermatology, Ankara, Turkey, 25 patients with different forms of alopecia areata (12 patients had multifocal alopecia areata, 09 patients had alopecia universalis, and 04 patients had alopecia totalis.) were treated with cyclosporine A for 2-12 months.
Out of the 25 patients, 3 discontinued the treatment because of the side effects.
The results were quite impressive. Of the remaining 22 patients, 10 experienced significant hair growth. Moreover, it was noted that patients diagnosed with alopecia areata less than 4 years ago had more positive results than patients with over 4 years of disease duration.
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The degree of positive effects brought about by cyclosporine A was not mentioned in the published study.
How Cyclosporine-A works
Cyclosporine A downregulates a protein by the name of secreted frizzled-related protein 1 (SFRP1) in dermal papilla (DP).
The issue with cyclosporine A is that it has too many serious adverse effects, including kidney damage, blood hypertension, infections, digestive symptoms and tremors.
But it’s not all bad news; because of CsA, a new avenue of research was opened, where SFRP1 could be targeted to stimulate hair growth.
As a result, a new molecule called WAY-316606, which is used to treat osteoporosis, also showed significant inhibitory effects on SFRP1 and hair growth, as fast as 2 days after commencing the treatment. However, more research and clinical trials need to be done before starting to prescribe these drugs for hair loss.