hair talksOkay, not literally. However researchers from the University of California, Irvine have discovered that hairs can communicate and coordinate hair growth with one another across the entire body. This communication is regulated by a single molecular mechanism which can adjust to the skin region and ensure efficient levels of hair growth so that no bald patches form and distinct hair densities form in different areas of the body.

Study Findings

For animals, this regulatory process is important as it can ensure survival in the wild. For humans, these latest findings could become a way of address both balding and unwanted hair growth. The findings can even help further improve our understanding of how and why there are regions of fast and slow regeneration in coordination with other fast renewing tissues. The study required researchers to use the first mouse model of poor hair growth which allowed them to analyse human-hair like behaviour which can lead to baldness. Research also focused on the interaction of the Wnt signalling pathway – important for embryonic development and regeneration, and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) which can act as inhibitors for hair growth. Previous studies have shown the Wnt-BMP relationship to regulate hair growth on certain parts of the body, yet it was not known until this University of California, Irvine research study, how different skin regions can communicate with one another and coordinate hair growth across their borders.

What Next

Breaking down these findings can help scientists understand the root of human hair growth irregularities and help them find solutions. For example, male pattern baldness presents with hair loss on the frontal and crown regions, whereas the back of the head remains unaffected. If the communication between all of these regions can be reactivated, hair growth signals can be initiated and regional baldness can be prevented. The researchers believe that the Wnt-BMP signalling activities can be regulated with pharmacological interventions. Further studying this point and potential pharmacological solutions, as well as additional signally factors which were highlighted in the study could allow for more effective hair loss treatments in the future.

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By Ian Watson

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